Apr 9, 2021

The Wanting Mare (Nicholas Ashe Bateman, 2020)

“I'll keep you till I'm young again...”

Once upon a mirage, in a kingless kingdom far away, a ghost broke a jar of fireflies. But instead of flying away, the insects just remained there, as if frozen in time and space. Slowly, they disintegrated, giving birth to a nebulous dream that was but a curse. And when the most luminous particles of that dream crystallized, the mirror of the soul spread across the sleeping universe... 

An invitation to the land of eternal ice was written in cryptic symbols, which is why they remained in their hellbound city. Chained to the past, they accepted the future of eternal longing. Nights were longer than days, leaving their love blind amongst the dead stars...

Deliberately paced and stubbornly opaque, The Wanting Mare is an experiment in stark atmosphere, and a pretty daring one at that, considering that it is the first feature film for VFX artist Nicholas Ashe Bateman. He opts for green-screening not to create a larger-than-life spectacle for the masses, but rather to build a dark, intimate, dystopian / post-apocalyptic world teeming with hushed secrets and half-spoken truths. Its weary, soot-and-sweat-drenched inhabitants sleepwalk through the thick mist of melancholy, as life passes them by. What they deem to be the exit from their limbo may be just another chasm to fall through endlessly. Victims of both their own apathy and unenviable circumstances, these alienating, yet pity-evoking characters saunter aimlessly, with only certitude being the sense of precariousness. It feels like they are stuck in a godless myth, with no one to guide them.

Marrying his lost heroes’ saturnine situation to a luminous ambiguity, Bateman opens the portals towards the hidden recesses of a boundless mindscape, effortlessly expanding the viewer’s Imaginarium. Depriving us of clarity, the up-an-coming auteur challenges us to face our innermost being, and dive into its sublime obscurity. The stupefying cinematography (David A. Ross, turning the shivers of his handheld camerawork into simultaneously strong and delicate brushstrokes) and oneiric score (Aaron Boudreaux, gently wrapping his notes with an aura of mystery) add another layer of elusiveness to Bateman’s vision, further blurred by virtue of stream-of-conscious editing.

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