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Manuel de Layet [Film Festival 09.27.12] scifi thriller drama

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Vanishing waves is a study on the limits of scientific objectivity through means of neuro-sexual tampering in a conditioned environment. Translated in layman terms it's basically an anticipation film with enough porn mixed into it to get your attention entirely focused despite the seriousness of the topic in hand.

And now I've tempted you into reading past the first paragraph didn't I?

What we have on screen, in all its glory, is an experiment gone so, so beautifully wrong. A mathematically engineered crash course that will shatter lives. The initially intended experiment is about trying to reach-out into the mind of a comatose patient using some new apparatus involving neuron-waves transfer-and-analysis coupled to a sensory deprivation tank. The chosen scientific will be connected to the dormant mind and is merely tasked with observation and reporting.

What would you do if you were tasked to connect to another mind? How would you manage an intimacy beyond everything else? A true and total communion of spirit in the form of a plunge into the unknown? Into the deepest recess off someone-else brain what would you find?

There's a myriad of subsequent questions and answers to that postulate. The one chosen by director Kristina Buozyte is eerily simple and yet will bring down the painstakingly erected walls of scientific objectivity and methods. Her answer is this: " Tits ".

How easily can these two mounds of fatty tissue thwart the most brilliant minds is an ever present reminder of our lack of evolution, that despite all the science, technology and whatever we want to dress our species with, we're still animals that will forego everything for the mere possibility of a fuck.

It's no surprise that the comatose patient HAD to be a woman. Hence the need for our frustrated and emotionally numbed scientific-hero to go all the way into trying to help her regain consciousness. Of course, he's not helping her, only himself. As is hinted by one of the secondary characters "would you do the same if you found it was a man?" The corollary of that assertion being of course "would you have done the same if she was ugly?" And there's a real question worthy of any would-be Samaritan.

To bring a little more details on the action, capped with an intricate apparatus of sensors, our hero will be immersed into a technological womb, all his senses blanked-out for the transmission from the other end of the device. If at first, only noise and flashes of light will impart themselves on him, soon the process will refine and actual perception will dawn. Water, a shore, an unconscious girl.

The promiscuous beauty being pretty forward in her approach to him, he will start altering the reports, secluding the ground-breaking results from the rest of the project team and psychologists. Growing in both lust and love for the callipygian creature he's now virtually shagging on a 9 to 5 basis, he'll track her down the vast research complex and, being confirmed in her reality and appearance, will set himself into a "saving the damsel in distress" scheme. Interfering with all protocols and throwing ethics and his real-life couple out of the window in the process

Eventually it will spiral into something darker and less flattering for the hero, when he'll realise he is not perceived as the prince charming he believes himself to be, and merely got caught between conflicting memories and traumas involving her past lover. And his brutish reaction to that discovery will have dreadful consequences for both of them.

It raises questions about the limits of the scientific method and its weakest link: the human element. And as ethics goes you can also see why the animal model is still one of the preferred ways to test in-vivo. You rarely fall in love with a guinea pig.

All this needs a lot of support in terms of aesthetics for us to believe and immerse ourselves into the experiment. It's one of the strengths of this film that everything is cleverly and coherently conceived. The mental landscape we will dwell in for example, building upon the usual pelagic semantics associated to the unconscious, sits firmly on a beach. A simple yet effective way of actually diving into someone's mind to the shores of consciousness.

Same for the mental constructions erected on it, half built de-structured structures of wood, echoing the graphs and visual-monitoring of the science team and the title itself. Vanishing waves of thought coalesced into matter.

As a conclusion, I'm not usually one to talk about the paraphernalia of moviemaking, Art should in my view be judged as a finished product detached from the means, travails and various mental prostitution involved in its making, yet sometimes it's worth noting some aspects of the ant-like workings involved. This, for instance, is the First science fiction film from Lithuania. Being able to produce genre is already difficult in places where the industry is well established, so, in a way, even if the result was utter tripe it would be an achievement in itself. And since the film is one of best things I've seen at l'Etrange this year, the accomplishment is unfathomable.

Just forget the fourth wall as the hero forgets the scientific method, and enjoy this magnificent insight on ourselves.

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