Aside from a historical value that has to translate into beauty and interest, there probably a more proper place to shoot Dreamover than Russia. At least, when it portrays the current life of Demian, our main character and the subject of Roman Olkhokva‘s film.

Everything’s gray. It snows constantly. And expressionless faces accompany Demian on his commute. There isn’t life in this community. It’s only a pace to be followed. A ritual that doesn’t break into anything. The sadness in this place is invasive, almost lethal.

In a frame of such emotional proportion, Olkhovka introduces a poor man whose only goal is to rest. He needs to. His lack of sleep is affecting him to the point of seeking help that’s anything but traditional. A piece of paper in the subway may hold the answer. He attends a small office where a “doctor” tells him he has the method for correcting the way he sleeps: using love as a booster of relaxing and good memories. When he accepts, Demian begins dreaming about a long lost love.

As the film progresses, also do the dreams. We come to know what happened with Demian when he was a young man and fell in love with Masha. Things didn’t end well.

However, as memories become chronologically disorganized, Demian starts to see the experiment has some effect in real life. The present he’s living in can be “affected” by what he does in his dreams.

There’s a method to Olkhovka’s way of telling a love story with a supernatural twist. What’s interesting is that he primarily designs characters to have a life of their own. Up until the second act, Dreamover is a film about loneliness and memories. About the horrendous effect of regret. When the film enters a sci-fi realm, it’s definitely not as interesting (the chemistry in the couple didn’t work at all for me). However, it’s never predictable and this I must appreciate about the film.

Using a “lo-fi sci-fi” storytelling style (love the term), Dreamover has an effect on the viewer that could differ from what’s expected. I understand Roman’s intention with the film, but it’s not an easy film to translate into an enjoyable experience.

And what if it isn’t meant to be enjoyable? It’s a great possibility and in this regard, Dreamover is a much better film. I insist on staying on Demian’s present of abundant questions and sadness. A performance by Ilya Chepyre is essential to this part of the film.

Whether you feel it’s too romantic as an approach or you don’t buy into the character’s morally questionable decisions, Dreamover is only an interesting film if you come to terms with its solid spark that turns into something else after an experiment is revealed. On one hand we have an old man who needs to sleep, and on the other he gets the opportunity to relive his best and worst moments. Isn’t this a little bit much?

Maybe. But if this is how “time travel” films (this is not a time travel film, but there’s a device common with that subgenre of films) are supposed to work now, then I’m in.

I would like to address a special note to some shots the film has that blew my mind. I’m not talking about drone shots that seem too obvious in nature. I meant the one with the cable and the computer in the doctor’s office. Dreamover is the work of one man. He’s also the DP, and this shot, as well as some others, are proof that his talent in undeniable.


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