A Strange Path: Labyrinth of Dreams

English Daily #1
A Strange Path (Guto Parente, Brazil, 2023), Full-Length Films Competition, 7-7 17:30 House of Cinema Grand Hall, 9-7 12:30 House of Cinema Grand Hall

In the early days of the COVID pandemic, young filmmaker David returns to Brazil to showcase his debut feature film at a film festival. However, the festival gets canceled, the hotel shuts down, and David finds himself stranded on the streets, compelled to seek shelter from his father, who had abandoned the family years before. As they isolate under the same roof, David attempts to reconnect with him, but his father shows little interest in bonding and in general behaves quite oddly.

Starting as an exploration of obsessive-compulsive behavior imbued with ceremonial significance, Guto Parente's Extraordinary Path plunges both the protagonist and the audience into an inexplicable phantasmagorical realm. Amidst the pandemic, where surreal rituals integrate seamlessly into daily life, distinguishing reality from dreams becomes quite difficult. It feels like everything is out of place. The director further enhances this effect through various techniques, incorporating scenes reminiscent of experimental cinema, as well as footage from the protagonist's own films, manipulating and deconstructing imagery with dissolves and crossfades to evoke an atmosphere of "dreamlike unreality."

The escape from this endless nightmare hinges on the rediscovery of familial bonds. The swirl of bizarre and unsettling events appears as a necessary obstacle on one’s journey of self-discovery.

Alexander Melyan