Imagination

"OK"

Imagination Review


Avant-garde cinema is an acquired taste -- mainly because, as the viewer, you have to give every benefit of the doubt to the "artist." It's a genre that focuses more on cinema as a visual medium rather than a story-telling device. Subtle symbolism seeps into the swirling colors and layered images; yet, there is a feeling of emptiness can only be filled by the thematic weight of a storyline. While Imagination attempts to combine the two worlds of avant-garde visuals and a straightforward plot, it loses itself in the gap between reality and dreams.

Like a childhood dream of Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Imagination revels in an awe-inspiring, stop-motion universe to tell the tale of two twins who are linking psychologically and emotionally -- Sarah is practically blind and led around by Anna, who is so caught up in her own imagination (hence the title) that she cannot connect with her peers. The two undergo a series of psychological examinations as their family disintegrates. The plot is interesting enough, exploring a phenomenon occasionally found in twins, but the avant-garde style works against any attempt to create thematic importance out of the plot.

Instead of creating symbolic, albeit avant-garde, motifs out of the grounded plot material, director Eric Leiser instead establishes his recurring visuals in the jumbled dream sequences. By doing so, his motifs like the fawn and key to nature come across as empty clichés rather than elevating the real-world events. It also undermines the characters' motives because we cannot sympathize with obscure images.

The only chance we have as an audience is in Dr. Reineger -- the doctor treating the twins. Like a heavy-set Dr. Sam Loomis (Halloween), Dr. Reineger runs around fretting about the metaphysical condition of the twins; despite his heavy-handed voice-overs, he is the only relatable character as he tries to decipher the twins' cryptic dreams. Predictably, the good doctor is never able to come to any conclusions and in the end, we feel closer to the father who left near the beginning of the film and ended up at a bar.

Though Imagination falters in its plot and substance, its stab at the avant-garde works wonderfully, even in its unintentional emulation of the style's emptiness. The stop-motion depictions of two fetal twins in the womb and a young girl running through a forest with trees that follow her with their wood-knot eyes is the kind of untouched cinema we long for in our local multiplexes. It's a rare sight to see such unabashed creativity, which the film has in spades. Unfortunately, it's all too common to see that creativity crumble into a thematic void that is filled only with visual spectacle and clichéd meaning.

Proverb: The trees can't see the forest for you.



Imagination

Facts and Figures

Run time: 70 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 26th February 2008

Budget: $110 thousand

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

IMDB: 4.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Eric Leiser

Producer: Joseph Cahill

Starring: Ed Gildersleeve as Dr. Reineger, Nikki Haddad as Anna Woodruff, Jessi Haddad as Sarah Woodruff, Courtney Sanford as Janice Woodruff, Travis Poelle as Roland Woodruff, Anthony Caraday as Young Doctor Reineger

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