SXSW Film Review: collective:unconscious

An anthology feature that would make Jung proud

An omnibus of filmmakers’ dreams once intended as a humble web series has instead become a masterfully edited, intensely psychoanalytic feature.

From an inspired concept by executive producer Dan Schoenbrun, collective:unconscious is the most complex and cohesive anthology film since Fantasia 2000. It’s the movie Freud might have Kickstarted after seeing 2006's Paris, Je T’aime.

Six sections compose the project: five fiction shorts adapted by and from the dreams of Daniel Patrick Carbone, Frances Bodomo, Lily Baldwin, Lauren Wolkstein, and Josephine Decker; and placeholder segments with a honey-voiced hipster/hypnotist. Continuous aural cues and electronic music link the films, which vary stylistically. Some are one rung up from naturalism; one was shot in magnificent black-and-white, while another simulates a VHS aesthetic. No two visions are alike, and viewers will prefer some pieces above others.

What does not vary is accomplishment, as the five dream-renderings are unanimously virtuosic, especially those like Decker’s, Wolkstein’s, and Baldwin’s, that called for Lubezki-level single-shot photography. The color editing, sound mix, and editorial pacing – noticeably difficult for recent anthologies – are here impeccable.

The collective unconscious of these gifted filmmakers displays primal thematic unities that reach into your human heart. Volcanic explosions, invasive parasites, phallic skewers: once the stuff that dreams are made of, now the sources of entertainment.


Narrative Feature Competition, World Premiere
Monday, March 14, 12:45pm, Alamo South Lamar
Wednesday, March 16, 4pm, Rollins Theatre

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