DIRECTED BY: Kristina Buozyte
FEATURING: Marius Jampolskis, Jurga Jutaite
PLOT: A scientist experimenting with a technology to allow people to enter the minds of others finds himself in ethical dilemma when he falls in love with his test subject: a young woman trapped in a coma.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Kristina Buozyte (and her co-writer and “Creative Director” Bruno Samper) are names to keep an eye on. However, Vanishing Waves, a slightly trippier (but much sexier) variation on Inception, comes up short of making the List of the Best Weird Movies: it’s weirdness is just an accent for its science fiction conceit.
COMMENTS: Made for about 1.5 million dollars, but looking much more expensive, Vanishing Waves is a literal head-trip that explores what it might be like to travel into someone else’s mind. With fractal effects morphing out of diffused white light and neural maps that twinkle like celestial bodies in the void, overlaid with a cellular geometry, the visuals portraying the boundary between one consciousness and another reminded me of a grayscale version of Enter the Void.
Once inside the mind of the other, however, scientist Lukas finds coma victim Aurora’s interior life to be a series of tableaux based on the real world, including a paradisaical beach, an empty opera house, and a wooden home that takes on an M.C. Escher by way of Cabinet of Dr. Caligari architecture. What Lukas sees inside Aurora’s head is clearly made of dreams, as when they observe a strange blue insect eating a pile of tiny globes, which it then excretes from its hindquarters, encased in a gelatinous casing. This is a strange image of primitive sexual biology, and Aurora—who doesn’t speak, as the verbal portions of her mind clamped down in the grips of her coma—has little more than the primal urge of sex left on her mind. Her first act on encountering Lukas swimming in the infinite ocean of her consciousness is to passionately soul kiss the stranger, an act which, predictably, gets Lukas hooked and wanting more.
The sleeping Aurora has no idea who Lukas is, and in her brain-damaged fugue state cannot imagine—at least at first—the existence of any other consciousness besides hers and his. Inside her mind is a perfect guilt-free, consequence-free world of erotic abandon, and we can understand why Lukas doesn’t explain the full depth of his discoveries to his fellow scientists, even if we don’t endorse his acts. The early couplings are playful, childlike and primal, an attitude reinforced by their infantile reactions to the dishes at an elaborate imaginary feast: they splash each other with soup and wine and spit the half-chewed blackberries onto their faces, savoring texture of the food against their skin as much as its flavor. As Aurora starts to slowly and instinctively rebuild her memories, their sexual Eden unravels. A dark, mysterious third party is glimpsed lurking in the shadows of Aurora’s mind, and, in the movie’s centerpiece sequence, an orgy of writhing, faceless bodies turns from a wet dream to a nightmare. When you get down to it, Lukas is a 21st century cyber-rapist, penetrating his victim’s mind, with the coma serving the same function as a roofie snuck into a drink. However much Lukas is obsessed with Aurora, this is not a what society normally views as a solid basis for a mature relationship. Can the pair form a meaningful mind-to-mind connection under these bizarre circumstances? And, given Aurora’s low-brain-activity condition, does she have any other practical suitors? These questions are left to the viewer to decide.
Specialty releaser Artsploitation Films views Vanishing Waves as the brightest jewel in their catalog, and presents it in an elaborate 2-disc set. There is no commentary track but there are both written and filmed interviews, a hidden (that is, unlabeled) slide show, and a “making of” video. The two extra-special extras are the film’s complete soundtrack and the entirety of Kristina Buozyte’s début film, The Collectress, a drama about a woman who has to film herself engaging in increasingly risky behavior because she can only feel emotions when watching them on video.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“…derivative to a fault—but a deserved midnight-movie cult following is all but assured.”–David Fear, Time Out New York (contemporaneous)
(This movie was nominated for review by Tally Isham, who said it had “very good moments of dream-like weirdness.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)