(director/writer: Stephen Rutterford; cinematographer: Stephen Rutterford; editor: Stephen Rutterford; music: Ben Runyan/ Rob Vonderheide/Olav Christensen; cast: Jimmy Levar (William Edgar), Ira Grossman (Sheriff) Christina Chu-Ryan (Ophelia), Alexandria Lyon (Rose), Natalie Blessing (Dr. Ali Hope), Gabriela Whiting (Juliette), Steve Schaefer (Steve the Bartender); Runtime: 73; MPAA Rating: NR; producer; Stephen Rutterford; Hulu/Indie Rights; 2021)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Stephen Rutterford in his feature film debut writes, directs, edits, produces and is cinematographer of this experimental flick–one maybe geared to those turned on by hallucinogenics, the work of Carl Jung, their imaginations or from being outsiders in a straight society. It’s filmed on a tiny budget, and gets over as a trippy fantasy film. The filmmaker gets great visuals out of his small budget, but is let down by the wooden acting, its inability to connect emotionally with some viewers, and that the story-line at times seemed senseless. But if the film is about how difficult it is to find the girl of your dreams, then it made a connection with me.
It begins with a series of Rorschach tests in black and white, as our Black protagonist, William (Jimmy Levar), wakes up. He’s a Brooklyn commercial artist, working for a NYC advertising agency, whose overwhelmed by a series of hypnotic dreams whereby he obsesses over a mysterious beautiful woman that he believes is the tragic Ophelia (Christina Chu-Ryan) from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the dream she drifts above water remaining elusive as she entices men to come to her. Whether she is a real person is doubtful. But the love-struck dude, no longer tuned into his girlfriend Juliette (Gabriela Whiting), is now living in an escapist dream world as he tries to find his Ophelia in real-life in his surreal search of the city where he encounters such oddities as taunting pigs.
The film, without a plot, seems at times as lost as its hero is without a life plan, as it stumbles along trying to get grounded. To its credit, it has a different look than most other recent films reaching out to a young audience. So even if I can’t say this is a memorable film, nevertheless it seems to be like a dream one has that excites at night but in the morning is forgotten.
It might suit best those looking for a different kind of film experience based solely on style, inventiveness and the ability to be mind-blowing. I found it strangely watchable (reminding me somewhat of the 1960s time of acid trips).
It should be noted it won Best Mystery Film at Cannes World Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Awards, and New York International Film Awards, as well as Best Feature Film at the London Independent Film Awards.
REVIEWED ON 9/5/2021 GRADE: B-