15th Jul2020

‘Parallax’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Naomi Prentice, Nelson Ritthaler, Hattie Smith, Ted Gianopulos, Bette Smith, Taylor Flowers, Brooke Lorraine | Written and Directed by Michael W. Bachochin

Trying to explain exactly what Parallax is about is slightly complicated. It can be written in simple terms but that just wouldn’t cover the half of it. Parallax is a complex movie with lots of ideas, some of which I will try to explain – even if I didn’t necessarily understand them all!

The movie follows an artist who wakes up in a life she does not recognise. Slowly she tries to unravel the life she is in but her recurring nightmares of drowning every time she falls asleep and discoveries she finds through her painting lead her to what she believes is her ‘real’ life. It sounds complicated written down like that and in truth it isn’t much easier to follow on screen.

For much of Parallax it seems clear exactly when we are watching real life and when we are watching a dream (or nightmare). The drowning nightmare is the easier one to understand on the face of things but the other ‘dreams’ are not so simple. The artist, Naomi (played by Naomi Prentice) enters these dreams by painting them. The scenes she paints are not of her choosing but just kind of happen and then she drifts off into that world she has created. Then in that world she starts trying to figure out what she is not remembering.

Initially these dreams look very different to other scenes. Many are bright (set on beaches) and the characters all talk and act a little differently. Unfortunately this type of dialogue and acting didn’t work for me and the dream sequences were the poorest when it comes to acting performances.

Which is unfortunate because the acting from the relatively inexperienced cast is pretty good. Prentice and Nelson Ritthaler in the leads are enjoyable for the most part – once you get past the slightly odd style of dialogue. At times it feels like the director is trying to make something a bit too art housey and there’s this slow tone to how the characters talk, with what feel like long pauses in between sentences.

Parallax is a little under two hours and if anything it feels a little longer. The slow pace is deliberate but there are times when it’s a bit of a chore to get through. In fact there were moments when I had decided I didn’t really like the film. Only for minutes later to watch a scene and really like it. It’s that kind of movie.

The film’s pace only really picks up for the last twenty minutes and then it opens up with a whole world of new questions for its viewer. Some are answered, others are not, perhaps on a re-watch you’ll get answers to them all but whether I’d want to watch it all through again I’m not 100% sure.

Writer and director Michael Bachochin clearly had lots of ideas here. From dreams and reality to multiple universes and even mental health. There is plenty to unpack and talk about with Parallax and it tries hard to be an original sci-fi movie. Stick with it through its slow start and you will get some enjoyment and surprises with Parallax.

*** 3/5

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