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Rick McGrath [Celluloid 03.16.09] movie review drama

Year: 2008
Directors: Matthew Hysell
Writers: Matthew Hysell
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Dr. Nathan
Rating: 8 out of 10

Dream A Little Dream Of Me…

Dr Nathan has a saying – "reason rationalizes reality" – but the explanation for this extraordinary movie came to me in a dream: it’s all a dream. Sound enigmatic? Wait until you see Marin Blue and you’ll know what I mean.

What we have here from writer/director Matthew Hysell is a nifty little non-story about Jim Reed and Marin Blue (played by Cory Knauf and Najarra Townsend), two good-looking, hair-stroking kids who manage to find themselves, maybe, in a non-sequitor world adjacent to Los Angeles. Jim has been committed to a youth mental facility and Marin works there, watching the inmates over closed circuit TV and singing sad ditties over the loudspeaker. When this flick started I thought I might be watching an update of Sam Fuller’s classic, Shock Corridor, but Jim escapes and is later found by Marin on the hard streets of LA. They meet, finally discover they once knew each other at high school, and travel together to rediscover their lost past.

Or so it seems. Turns out Marin is a narcoleptic and has to drink a blue liquid out of small vials to control her condition. There’s a telling scene about a third of the way thru where Jim and Martin are sitting in a diner and Marin conks out. When she revives she slurps some blue and Jim asks what it is -- "I don’t know" -- and what it does -- "It’s like I’m dreaming, but still awake." Hey presto. There’s the movie in one line. The action moves like a waking dream, with no backstory, no reason for plot twists, no suggestion as to who these people are, no rationale to tie anything together.

Normally, this endless guessing game would cause he Doctor to slip into his own narcoleptic state, but Marin Blue is saved by the quirky acting of Cory Knauf and Najarra Townsend and the lush cinematography of George Su. Cory and Najarra are California cuties with great hair they constantly flip and flick, and George Su has a great eye and loves contrasts, especially with over-saturated color. The sets are uniformly as minimal and bleak as possible, and although the action appears to be strung out over weeks, Marin is only seen in one costume – a leg-revealing odd purple frock.

Is the whole thing a series of dreams, some narcoleptic, some crazy? A side effect of the blue medicine? The fantasies of a mental patient? Or perhaps it’s just a story with all the connections removed. Whatever it is, Marin Blue is successful at drawing you in to its enigma and soothing you with its visual treats. Not all dreams are nightmares.

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