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  • Stanley Kubrick meets Gaspar Noe in Lithuanian director Kristina Buozyte's third feature, co-written with Bruno Samper, a visually stunning, sexy sci-fi romantic thriller that's winning awards and taking festivals by storm. Here, at Fantastic Fest, "Vanishing Waves" took four of the five jury trophies in the Fantastic Features category: Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Actress (Jurga Jutaite).

    Don't arrive late because a brief opening narration sets up the story's premise. In a line, scientists discover a way to wire the "inactive" brain of a comatose patient (Aurora, portrayed by Jurga Jutaite) with that of a healthy subject (Marius Jampolskis as Lukas) as a way of peering into the secret workings of the coma victim's mind. Of course, things don't necessarily go as planned. Fans of 9 Songs and Anatomy of Hell will appreciate the continual forays into what some might call a soft porn ballet as the neurological experiments progress.

    More than anything, the movie is a sci-fi conundrum interspersed with an erotically-charged, luscious program of modern dance. Jutaite and Jampolskis are absolutely wedded to these performances. Emotions are delicately underplayed, with the focus on the on screen pas-de-deux. There's very little dialogue as the script favors feelings and thoughts over actions and reactions.

    The lush look of the film is its overarching achievement. It opens with a ONEr -- a single long take that immediately establishes this as a cinematographic showcase. Director of Photography Feliksas Abrukauskas helps craft a motion picture that would be gorgeous to watch even without any plot at all. "Vanishing Waves" has, unquestionably, some of the most beautiful cinematography of any film I've seen all year.

    The regular but judicious use of single takes and long tracking shots enhance the fluidity of the action and keep the characters constantly in motion within the frame. There are no shaky hand-held images here -- this is a study in the effective use of Steadicam in telling a story beyond the limits of the scripted page. Editor Suzanne Fenn trusts the viewer's eye will know when to take a rest from this delicious assault on the senses and keeps cuts to a minimum.

    Aurora and Lukas are bathed in light, viewed in oversaturated images almost devoid of color. The film is filled with the blacks and grays and whites so ubiquitous in the science fiction genre. The monochromatic clinic set is black and white. Shots in Lukas' house utilize a cold color palette dominated by pastel blues. The only primary colors on display owe their appearance to the occasional food-centric dream sequence.

    Peter Von Poehl's sweeping original score rests on a continuous humming that echoes the electronic drone of the medical equipment as well as the imagined workings of the human brain. It's magnificently integrated into the narrative.

    "Vanishing Waves" is simply gorgeous to behold. The premise is elegant but the execution of the dream sequences will sweep you off your brain. This is a singular cinematic experience to savor like an all-night gourmet meal or foray into sexual experimentation. Or both at once.
  • Lukas is a young scientist who partakes in an experiment whereby his brain waves are connected to those of a comatose female patient. The goal is to ascertain if data can be transferred from one brain to another. Of course, Lukas cannot know anything about the patient, because that could influence the outcome. Lukas enters the isolation tank, and sinks deeper and deeper into his own subconscious. At some point he enters the subconscious of the patient, who turns out to be named Aurora. They fall for each other and make love multiple times during Lukas's visits.

    Lukas chooses not to say anything to the researchers, because he is violating protocol (he's only there to observe, not to make contact) and that would consequently endanger his future visits to Aurora. His affair with the comatose woman not only endangers the experiment, but also his private life, as his obsession with Aurora grows.

    Vanishing Waves is one of those sci-fi movies that take place in the landscape of the subconscious, just like Dreamscape, The Cell and Inception. Director Krystina Buozyte makes that landscape quite beautiful and convincing, with lyrical photography, striking locations and surreal visual effects. Technically this film is quite good.

    But I have a big problem with the main character Lukas, who is not someone to root for. Once he has met Aurora, no one in the real world can match up to her. So he abuses his girlfriend and sexually attacks a prostitute. Is that really necessary for Buozyte to make the point that an immature man might become obsessed with what is in essence a dream woman? Maybe, but the result is a protagonist who the viewer cannot identify with and whose predicament leaves you cold. A film with way too little plot to fill a runtime of two hours should not keep its viewers at a distance like this.

    Also problematic are the supporting actors, more specific: everyone in the laboratory. They all speak English, but so poorly it sounds like they are reading their lines phonetically.
  • mario_c6 March 2013
    I've seen today this VANISHING WAVES from the promising Lithuanian director Kristina Buozyte at "Fantasporto" (film festival from Oporto, my hometown) and I was amazed with it! I already knew it had won some important prizes, including one Melies D'Or, as the best European fantastic feature film, but even so I wasn't expecting such remarkable movie.

    It combines many genres and sub-genres of cinema (from sci-fi to mystery thriller, romance to surrealism, among others) but it ends being a unique experience with an excellent directing work. At parts it made me remind some surrealistic movies of the 70's and their weird and abstract cinematography! I don't know if it was intended or not but I think it resembles to them in so many scenes!

    The plot is not so ambiguous and twisted like those 70's surreal movies but at parts it's also a bit unclear and puzzling. However, at the end I think the message is quite clear and strong! But in a film like this the plot is what matters the less anyway. The beauty of this movie is in its colors, its intensity, the weird scenarios and the surreal ambiences! The camera work is also excellent showing some twisted angles and some little details that provide an amazing visual effect.

    I was perfectly astonished with this film and from now on I'm expecting a lot from this director, Kristina Buozyte (which besides a good director seems to be a sympathetic person; she was also there at Fantasporto, presenting the movie!:)
  • This would have worked much better as a 20-minute short. Even at that, it would have been *interesting*... but not anything all that special. To clarify where I'm coming from, yes, I like many so-called art-house films, and don't mind long takes per se, but this movie had so many scenes where I was begging for them to end and move on to the next bit of business, because they were so tedious.

    More problems: The leads are not particularly charismatic, nor do we ever really care about any of the characters. And overall, this film just doesn't really have much to say. About anything.

    Honestly, I cannot really even explain why I sat through the entire length of the film, other than to say I suppose I kept hoping for something to happen. There were no surprises here whatsoever. The only reason I'm leaving this review here is so that other people don't stumble across it and get the impression from some of the other comments that it's worthwhile seeing. In my opinion, it's not.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie, in my opinion, fails from the start because it's built upon a false premise; that a scientist would lie about odd results in an unexplored field. His training tells him that every piece of data is important until proved otherwise. Far all he knows, what he thinks 'might be his imagination' could be the answer to what they're looking for! It's his job to collect the data NOT cherry-pick what he thinks is significant.

    If this was a test-subject off the street, it might have been believable, but as a team member, with grants and Pulitzer prizes on the line.. I don't think so.

    Certainly plenty of successful movie plots have had a scientist break- ranks. Those movies though, get you to suspend your disbelief, by always clearly justifying motivations. In this movie they don't do this, and that's where IMHO this movie fails.

    In conclusion: The surrealism of this movie, as with many like it, is hard to get used to. Add in the weak premise, sparse dialog, flat emotional tones, and it was tiresome, hard to feel connected to the characters. I actually had to force-feed myself the middle of the movie, waiting for it to develop. IT does a bit, but not with any shattering payoff...

    'Altered States' (1980) and 'What Dreams May Come' (1998) did a much better job with surrealism.

    I give it a 6.0 for imagery, and 5.5 for story development = 5.8
  • When I saw the trailer for this film I thought it looked amazing. I thought to myself this looks great, because I really love artistic films, yet when I finished the film I felt disappointed. It wasn't what I thought it was. I thought the dream sequences would be more like Inception and found that it's nothing like Inception at all but completely different.

    This film is one what will stay with you after you watch it, and it's simply amazing once it clicks. I don't think most people today can understand films like this particularly western audiences. I absolute hate western audiences which is odd because I'm from here but people over here have no thinking skills when it comes to films like this. The story was breathtaking to me it goes in depth and visualizes what happens when our brains shut down. Where do we go? What kind of people are we when we leave our heads? What goes with us? What can we do?

    This movie represents all that and some. The dinner scene was just, one of the best scenes that I've seen in a film in a while. It was so simple yet it was so great, it felt so chaotic. No rules bound to us and what becomes of us?

    The visuals were actually really good even thought they weren't special effects, the way they are filmed is hypnotic in a way. The sexual scenes however aren't really meant to be pornographic as most people here would take them. They are meant to be sexual, human nature, what binds us together when we want to feel love, and what can swallow us never letting up it's grip one bit. The best thing about this movie however is that it can mean just about anything, I pondered on an explanation to the film for a few days and realized that it's one of those films that means something different to everyone, but with 2 basic concepts what is it like to be a free soul and can we find love within ourselves?

    Fantastic film. Awesome acting. And superb story and visuals. Kudos to Kristina.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Finally, I got this movie to watch in 2014. As always watching Lithuanian movie I never expect something very attractive or interesting. Decided to see it just in case - maybe something has changed. Here's my honest thoughts about this movie.

    The plot idea is quite interesting, but badly realized due to low budget, I guess. Movie is concentrated on the characters and not on the experiment of neuron-transmit technology itself, which IMHO supposed to be the main „catch" to watch this movie. The whole movie is based on a mistake made by a medical-IT scientist. It's hardly believable that scientist could lie about such an important experiment and fake the result. It's a science experiment, not a personal machine for your sex and other desires. I think this is a main plot hole. The idea itself about connecting two people via wire is not new at all. It reminded me of Inception and some episodes of Fringe, but without much of VFX, of course. At the beginning I even thought: „Oh man, this will be something like surrealistic mini-series „Prisoner"". Well, not really. At least it tried to be that way. The problem with this movie is that most of the movie contains some art-house thing, which is not interesting at all and even awkward to watch. Yeah, it had some secret meanings, but sometimes you miss the idea of the particular scene. Another thing I didn't like were nude scenes. Yeah, explicit nude scenes are present in this movie and some of them were really disturbing to watch. Especially scene with fully naked running man (and woman in a distance somewhere). I had to scroll forward that particular scene. The other huge problem – movie hardly gives you any feelings after you watched it – neither sadness or happiness (drama), neither food for brains (sci-fi), neither passion (romance movies), neither a thrill (in horror or thriller movies).

    I have to admit video quality was quite impressive. Camera work could be more dynamic while filming dialogs to create suspense, which was absent in this movie. Audio in some scenes is too quiet to understand the words. It's not understandable even if you change your volume levels. Well, too bad. At the end you're given important information about the plot in form of whispers. It was very nice idea to end movie like this, but was disappointed at this point as I had to re-watch the ending several times to hear what they're saying.

    Unlike other Lithuanian movies, in this one you won't see that crazy and ridiculous acting, which was taken from cheap Russian TV shows and movies. Everything was quite a professional, Scandinavian type of acting. I liked this right from the beginning and this is the strongest side of this movie. But it's not enough – somehow acting doesn't make you feel for the characters. Maybe it's because of weak directing or even weak scenario itself.

    This movie looks exceptional and it has been awarded in some European movie awards, but it lacks some serious aspects that could be attractive for casual viewer like me.
  • Some scientists start working on an experiment to see if they can transfer some, any brain activity from a comatose patient, to a healthy subject. Lukas is the recipient, some scientist who's married. The experiment works. While under, he rescues a girl from the water and saves her life. In additional sessions, they establish a passionate relationship. Lukas looks forward to the sessions. It puts a strain on his relationship. More importantly, he isn't at all forthcoming about what he experiences. He just tells the team that he senses a presence. Things start getting weird and eventually go downhill for the relationship. Another man shows up in in this other-world. He represents a threat to Lukas and the girl. Eventually Lukas confronts him but that will also prove the undoing of his relationship with the girl. At some point he actually visits the comatose girl in real life and learns that she and a man were involved in a car accident but the man didn't make it. When the researchers decide to put an end to the experiment because for a moment, Lukas died during a session and had to revive him, Lukas comes clean about what has happened. And he demands one last session. He thinks he can save/cure the girl.

    Vanishing Waves is interesting, stylish, and erotic. But it's long, slow, and tedious. It's one of those movies where very little is said, where characters establish romantic relationships without talking to each other. Instead we get lots of annoying high-pitched sounds. The movie is directed with confidence and style but given that most scenes last about 4 times as long as they should, the style ends up getting in the way of the movie. Acting is brutally stiff, I don't know if it has to do with the language--Lithaunian--maybe it's a cold and stiff language and hence the people are too. I started forwarding during a couple of scenes that wouldn't end. There's a ridiculous scene of the guy running naked after the girl but has a hard time catching her. The scene lasts maybe 10 minutes. At some point with the appearance of the other man, I started getting interested in the story and the turns which it might take, but didn't. The concept is good, not original, but surely something more could have been done here. But I enjoyed the ending. I give the movie 4 stars for Jurga Jutaite's stunning body and one more star for the concept and style. This movie could have been much stronger had the director shown a bit more moderation and had they written some more dialogue.
  • kosmasp18 March 2014
    The movie itself is a weird mix of many things and it is not for everybody. It's a head thing (pun intended) and might strike you the wrong way. But if you are into the idea of the fantastic and have no issues with a bit of skin, then you might be positively surprised by this science fiction/fantasy entry.

    The acting might seem wooden at times and the main character might be sliding into the territory of "don't do that"-yell from the audience, but overall the switch between worlds and the interaction feels real (which is funny if you think about it). The movie itself is not made as a comedy though, it is more structured like a drama/thriller. If you want to see something different, go ahead
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Lukas (Marius Jampolskis) becomes part of an altered state experiment by synchronizing his brain waves with a woman in a coma (Jurga Jutaite). They meet and live in a surreal dream world that is slightly bizarre and is sexual. Lukas becomes attached to the girl and has difficulty readjusting to the real world.

    This is an indie art film. I found the subject matter interesting, but not always entertaining.

    Parental Guide: Sex and Nudity