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VENICE 2023 Orizzonti Extra

Review: The Dreamer


- VENICE 2023: Raphaël Thiéry and Emmanuelle Devos shine in Anaïs Tellenne’s debut feature, an unusual movie with an insidious charm about opinions, judgements, monstrosity and art

Review: The Dreamer
Raphaël Thiéry in The Dreamer

"You inspire me like a changing, uneven landscape, a canyon: unpredictable and imprecise". Much like this fragment of dialogue, The Dreamer [+see also:
interview: Anaïs Tellenne
film profile
- French director Anaïs Tellenne’s debut feature film, presented in the Orizzonti Extra line-up of the 80th  Venice Film Festival - is a work which defies definition and eludes all the usual contemporary film styles without falling into forced originality. Both striking and elusive, the film’s subject matter is explored serenely with a pinch of mystery, a hint of social class exploration and an all-important singular foray into romanticism, courtesy of a man of the people whose Cyclopean physique sets him apart from the rest of the world and an artist who "hates feeling like she’s being watched and judged".

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A caretaker, gardener and handyman in an isolated manor house in the forest which has been uninhabited for a long time and where he and his mother (Mireille Pitot) live in an outbuilding, 58-year-old Raphaël (Raphaël Thiéry) hardly has any contact with the outside world, apart from bagpipe rehearsals with the Terra Gallica group and escapades in the woods with the postwoman (Marie-Christine Orry). It has to be said, his massive cyclops form is more of a source of worry than anything else. But the arrival, at the height of a storm and without any luggage, of Garance (Emmanuelle Devos) - his highly liberated and solitary landlady ("I’ll go where I want and I’ll come back when I want to come back") who’s also a contemporary artist nicknamed "The Blue Lady", famous as much for her performances as for tattooing her body with butchers’ cuts - turns Raphaël’s life upside down and, over time, the way he sees himself, too. Because, while keeping track of his strange neighbour, our protagonist soon realises that Garance has chosen him to be a model for her clay statues. But is he nothing but a Golem in this artist’s hands, or can he dare to hope for more?

"Everything is life, everything is art". As she broaches this story, questioning normality within the human condition and the influence other people’s opinions have on us, the director (who also wrote the screenplay) works in a relatively unusual register, vaguely blending fairy tale with a very down-to-earth realism and offering up a very personal atmosphere and pace. It’s a risky but profitable angle for this highly engaging film, which owes much to its two charismatic main actors and which heralds the emergence of a filmmaker with a voice.

The Dreamer is produced by Koro Films and is sold worldwide by Be For Films.

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(Translated from French)

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