REVIEW: ‘Dreamland’ at imagineNATIVE 2010


123 min | 2010 | Australia
Written & Directed by Ivan Sen. Starring Daniel Roberts and Tasma Walton

Screens at imagineNATIVE, Thursday Oct. 21 @ 5 PM, Al Green Theatre (Bloor & Spadina)

MI Rating: ★★★

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‘The truth is out there.’ It was Agent Fox Mulder’s decree in the classic sci-fi television series The X Files. And in Ivan Sen’s new film Dreamland, it’s protagonist Dan Freeman’s obsession.

But this modern truth-seeker couldn’t be more of an anti-Mulder. He cruises the highways, deserts and dying towns surrounding Nevada’s infamous Area 51 in hopes of catching a glimpse of extraterrestrial action or even a shred of evidence. Armed with only binoculars, a radio scanner, a sketchpad and a beat-up SUV, he jumps at every little flash of light and unusual sound. He’s on a quest to see something, but, as the story progresses, becomes increasingly aware of the supernatural around him.

The film is shot entirely in black and white, giving it a vintage feel of the classic alien/UFO films of the 1950s. The landscape is stunning, as are the vast starry nightscapes. Other than opening and closing monologues, there’s virtually no dialogue. We get to know Freeman during those long stretches of waiting at his various stops, where he sketches wildlife, landscapes, and occasionally sifts through old photographs of a life that’s clearly well behind him. He’s either on a quest for deeper meaning, or to become one of the hundreds of abductees he’s become obsessed with.

It’s a long and almost tedious character development, given the lack of dialogue. But as his visions of space exploration become more elaborate and frequent, and as he becomes more aware of the natural creatures and supernatural forces around him, we slowly learn what’s missing in his life and his ultimate fate.

In the meantime, he slowly comes to understand the influence of the ancient indigenous peoples who inhabited the deserts, mountains and valleys long before him — and how a significant person from his past could have brought him to that spiritual understanding too.

Dreamland is a cinematic spectacle but at times a slow narrative. Still, it’s a must-see for anyone who’s glanced both upwards and inwards for some shred of truth and understanding.

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