There’s a tweet that I once saw from someone who used Inception as prime evidence that Christopher Nolan is a tremendously boring individual, because his version of one’s deepest subconscious was ostensibly a blank room and folding cities instead of deeply freaky oedipal fantasies. Respectfully, I wonder if that’s truly worse than the subconscious as surrealist marketing space. For Kentucker Audley (She Dies Tomorrow) and Albert Birney (director of Tux and Fanny) though, it’s clear the latter is far more interesting than the former.
Put it this way, Strawberry Mansion feels like the film that would exist if Michel Gondry, Matthew Rankin, and Guy Maddin came together to make a film about the pervasiveness of advertising and the commodification of our world, and attached it to a film that is simultaneously about our dreams. Audley plays James Preble, a government employed auditor who is tasked with auditing the elderly Arabella “Bella” Isadora. Only James isn’t auditing Bella’s finances, he’s auditing her dreams, as in this future one’s dreams can be audited.
When we meet James, it’s clear that his life is bland. And not just because he orders some kind of gross chicken milkshake concoction from a local chicken joint. It’s bland because he can only seem to attach dollar values to the private memories of another’s life. However, when James meets a young Bella (Grace Glowicki) and starts to fall in love, he will start seeing in strawberry colour.
The above makes Strawberry Mansion seem like it culled straight from the backlot of the Sundance Film Festival, and yes, the film did have its premier at virtual Park City in January. But Audley and Birney go to some very unexpected direction that makes this delightfully fun. There’s a giant frog who plays saxophone, what more do you want?
- Rated: NR
- Genre: Adventure, Drama, fantasy
- Release Date: 8/5/2021
- Directed by: Albert Birney, Kentucker Audley
- Starring: Grace Glowicki, Kentucker Audley, Linas Phillips, Penny Fuller, Reed Birney
- Produced by: Emma Hannaway, Matisse Rifai, Sarah Winshall, Taylor Shung
- Written by: Albert Birney, Kentucker Audley
- Studio: Ley Line Entertainment