In Your Dreams!: An imaginative coming-of-age story for youngsters and adults
by Martin Kudláč
- BERLIN 2016: Czech producer and filmmaker Petr Oukropec has unveiled his sophomore feature in the Generation 14plus section of Berlin
Czech producer and filmmaker Petr Oukropec made his feature debut in 2012 with The Blue Tiger [+see also:
film profile], based on the children’s book of the same name. The director made no attempt to hide his intention to adhere to the Czech tradition of making films for children and youth audiences with his debut, and he continues with this mission in his second feature, In Your Dreams! [+see also:
film profile], albeit drifting into young-adult territory. The movie is screening in the Generation 14plus section of the Berlinale.
Despite the film’s opening title sequence being rendered in anachronistic red digital letters, the director has not been resting on his laurels and has actually shot a fairly modern rendition of the first-love scenario, sticking to his commitment “to continue to produce films for children, and search for new, contemporary stories and modes of storytelling”.
Sixteen-year-old and moderately rebellious Laura (newcomer Barbora Štikarová) is the lead character in the story, torn between her divorced parents. She falls in love with a seemingly indifferent boy and gets a taste of adulthood as she pursues her ambition and passion – not only in terms of her love interest, but also through her immersion in the art of parkour. At the same time, she becomes increasingly estranged from her father and must face up to the fact that her mother is starting a new life – providing yet more fuel for her simmering pubescent anxiety.
Where In Your Dreams! goes off the beaten track of typical coming-of-age stories is in its elevator scenes, serving as Matrix-like portals to the other side of reality. Besides setting the story in the unconventional yet trendy parkour subculture, in In Your Dreams! Oukropec transforms the magical moments of The Blue Tiger into fantasy intermezzos where, in Freudian fashion, the heroine overcompensates for what she thinks is missing in her life (the script was written by Egon Tobiáš, a Czech playwright, writer and graphic artist).
The dreamy otherworld doubles as an experimental lab for the filmmaker and is a visually rich canvas, where he externalises the protagonist’s inner thoughts through a range of styles. Oukropec fashions fantastic literal elaborations of otherwise figurative imagery in a series of playful allusions arising from the dynamics of the outer reality and Laura’s mind, which straddles the juvenile and the mature.
In one delirious venture, the heroine furiously pursues the object of her desire through a maze of dark passageways representing her subconscious, while in another, the director uses glossy and cheesy metatextuality to humorously depict the protagonist’s encounter with her prince, with the visually alluring fantasy land also serving as a playground for genre conventions that do not translate into apparent clichés.
The animated elements in an otherwise live-action film and its frequent didactic tendencies steered The Blue Tiger into a children’s audience demographic. In contrast, In Your Dreams! appeals to both youth and parent audiences through a medley of motifs tackling the road to adulthood and by examining a shared batch of issues while opting for both adult and adolescent perspectives.
Without it feeling too exotic or forceful, the director manages to capture and channel onto the screen elements of the teenager’s mixed range of feelings on both sides of reality. The way in which the parallel side plot of the child-parent relationship is dealt with enables us to understand the two parties’ standpoints on this topic, and the film avoids being excessively blunt, thus subtly conveying its insight into growing up.
In Your Dreams! was produced by Czech outfit Negativ, and co-produced by Slovakia’s ARINA and Bulgaria’s Chouchkov Brothers. The project was supported by the Czech State Cinema Fund, the Slovak Audiovisual Fund and the MEDIA Programme. Daniel Vadocký of Negativ is handling sales and festivals.