16 Apr 2017

In Search of the Exile (Daniel Fawcett & Clara Pais, 2016)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼


The string of (positive) reviews for the boundary-pushing films including The Suffering of Ninko, Still the Earth Moves, Sleep Has Her House and Frozen May continues with the British auteur duo Clara Pais and Daniel Fawcett's liquid, mind-blowing phantasmagoria In Search of the Exile.

Defying any categorization, this wild cinematic experiment could be described in many ways, but none of the descriptions would give the potential audience an accurate impression of the opus. As it takes you to another, mercurial world of an alternate, oneiric reality, it seems like a spiritual (and more abstract) successor to E. Elias Merhige's Begotten as seen through infrared filters - think Philippe Baylaucq's ballet fantasy ORA or Thomas Kirk's music video for Muse's Stockholm Syndrome, yet even more lavish and intense.

Elusive and enthralling, it is akin to an iridescent fairy tale which is made of divine reveries and takes place in the arcane Realm of Tarot; the complete anthology of the primordial embryo's memories or the lost collection of an ethereal being's home videos... The titular search is shared by the directors themselves, the hypnotized viewer and the protagonist referred to as the Wanderer (Fabrizio Federico) or rather, our souls and astral projections, our dream-selves and nightmare-ids. The encounters with the Witch, the Red Knight and the Lovers make us look deeper into the Subconscious and Beyond.

Drenched in screaming, hyper-saturated colors melting in front of your eyes, this avant-garde, dialogue-free mythos is an uninterrupted stream of equivocal images. Accompanied by the evocative score of familiar, yet alienating sounds, the dazzling, unearthly visuals create a whirlpool of an eternal, mysterious substance that you want to drown in.

During the watching, I thought to myself more than once: "If there is Heaven, I want it to be as immersive and stupefying as this."

(Available at Vimeo on Demand.)

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