A cursory glance at the credits of Nicholas Ashe Bateman’s feature debut The Wanting Mare lists 21st Century American Independent Cinema icon Shane Carruth as an executive producer. I had to laugh. While this is Bateman’s film through and through (they are the writer, director, editor and VFX supervisor), the film suspiciously feels like it were to a spiritual sequel of sorts to Carruth’s magnificent Upstream Color.
Carruth’s name lends credence to The Wanting Mare, but it acts as a bit of a curse as well as a blessing. You can feel the influence of Upstream Color upon the film, from its elliptical editing style to the handheld cinematography of David A. Ross. Even the bare bone plot synopsis is reminiscent of the simple one sentence synopsis of Carruth’s film. The ideas here are probably much bigger than the one sentence concept, and thus simply suggesting that this is a film about a line of women who pass a recurring dream through generations starting from a woman named Moira (Jordan Monghan), fails to do the film justice.
What Bateman manages to capture from his possible mentor, is the extreme feeling of affect that is present in Upstream Color. In particular the multi-decade romance between Moira and Lawrence (Nicholas Ashe Bateman) is particularly felt, and deeply romantic. The lighting in particular is a swirling mixture of deep blues and warm glows. Less successful is the film’s mushy middle. To solve the mystery is far less compelling in The Wanting Mare than it needs to be.
But this is also a film that I cannot wait to see again. Bateman spent close to five years shooting the film, and not all of it lands, but that which does, suggests that he is talent to watch.