Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me
—“Dream a Little Dream of Me,” lyrics and music by Kahn-Schwandt-Andre
Bruce Wood’s first step into the light and dark world of feature films is a welcome début and penetrating look into the workings of our post-Sandman minds.
The Door mixes portals, metaphors and cocktails like the magnificent oils that swirl their way onto canvas, rich with abstract notions that permeate the script and reinforce the themes with compelling verisimilitude. No still life here, it’s all ebb and flow.
Kent (Bill Ferris) wants to make new friends following the sad end of his relationship with Bob (Alexander J. Sanborn - young; Paul J. Slavinski - old). As always, he seeks comfort and counsel from his housecoat-teasing best friend Ori (Ryan Martin, who swishes through the role with bravado and lecherous conviction). With the wonderfully sculpted Dominique (Phillip Judson) looking on with longing then worried eyes, Ori turns down Kent’s request to stay with them, but offers to “introduce you to three who share dreams.”
The trio of dreamers’ back-story is told with varying degrees of success. Ron (Chase Stoeger) is convincing as a small-time money manager hoping to land the big account (ever the artist, Woods ensures that even his Post-it® notes are colour coordinated). Less believable is Jean (Katherine Wray) as she tries to end a marriage soured by a boozing husband Brad (Garrett Matheson) whose abuse turns violent. Her frequent escapes—as simple as pressing 911—ring false to battered women everywhere. Study-aholic Charlene (Karla Magnan) burns the midnight oil to earn her “make my mother proud” PhD, inspiring her long-suffering husband Scott (Dean Stump) to celebrate with champagne and cake.
Bart’s (Jason Matthew Palmer, wearing his jealousy on his sleeve, later steaming up the storage room with Dominique in a scene that stirs, er, memories of Saudade—cross-reference below) bar becomes the meeting place for Kent, Ron, Jean and Charlene. Ori does the introductions while jazz fills the ear (the well-balanced music by Brian Citro and Charles Gorczynski overflows with ostinato to the point of tedium).
No matter, the pace of the film picks up immeasurably as Kent interacts individually with his new pals. Soon Ron scores the client of the century, Charlene gets a private audience with Mayor Dudley (Sue Durso, nicely regal) and Jean’s engaged! Who could ask for anything more? Before you can say “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” the perfect worlds created by the new friendships come crashing down—faster than a speeding bullet, Kent morphs from saviour to suspect.
The confusion is marvellously reinforced by Wood’s snappy edits, photographically veiled moments of intimacy and subtle set decoration (not the least of which is an androgynous carving replete with full breasts and penis; copious masks also support the premise). A bigger budget next time might improve the sound (particularly the numerous telephone calls and some synchronization difficulties), but never mind. Anyone who has ever woken up after having a dream that you know was actually happening will savour the insight and imagination that successfully blurs reality with fiction in our world where telling the truth results in more problems than lying.
If one of the primary functions of film/art is to make us think, then this door needs to be entered by all.
Don’t miss the extra interviews with Ori and Kent—you may never sleep soundly again. JWR