Wavelengths

The Dreamed Path

Angela Schanelec

Thedreamedpath 01

Two couples suffer the failure of their relationships 30 years apart. Director Angela Schanelec’s bisected narrative is a quietly beautiful meditation on love, loneliness, and happiness just out of reach.

Often associated with the first wave of the Berlin School, the films of Angela Schanelec deserve to be better known in North America. Rigorous, intelligent, and formally beautiful, her work deals with notions of chance and transience, the complexity (and frequent opacity) of human relations defying the dictates of fate. Its precise construction matched by the suggestive mystery of its bisected narrative, The Dreamed Path is Schanelec's most moving — even devastating — film to date.

The opening movement of the film introduces us to Theres and Kenneth, two young lovers on vacation in Greece in the mid-1980s (a time when there was a certain optimism about Europe's future). Despite their passion, the couple cannot maintain their bond: pulled by the gravitational force of circumstances, and exhausted by life's emotional and physical burdens, both retreat. With a sudden and brilliant ellipsis, Schanelec leaps 30 years into the future and into the fraught relationship of a second couple, Berlin-based actress Ariane and her anthropologist husband David, whose disintegrating marriage results in a split — and whose subsequent trajectories lead them into the orbit of the separated lovers from the film's first half.

Exquisitely shot by master cinematographer Reinhold Vorschneider in a palette that manages to be both vibrant and muted, The Dreamed Path gives a Bressonian weight to bodies as Schanelec constructs an intricate choreography among these four characters, their paths intersecting within a nominally realistic space that may be dreamed or entirely imaginary.

While the narrative conundrum at the film's centre creates much mystery, Schanelec introduces small, touching gestures of empathy and understanding (as well as traces of sly humour) that subtly destabilize the film's tone and enhance its seductive strangeness. Its quiet beauty lined with a delicately woeful expression of loneliness and desire for a happiness just out of reach, The Dreamed Path is the work of a gifted and utterly singular filmmaking talent.

ANDRÉA PICARD

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