of it as A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters,
if it had been written for post-war intellectuals like Arendt and Camus. In
spite of their radically different backgrounds, poets Paul Celan and Ingeborg
Bachmann conducted an ambiguous but tempestuous romance, largely via letters.
Two actors reading the Celan-Ingeborg missives get caught up amid their passion
and angst in Ruth Beckermann’s The
Dreamed Ones, which screens as part of this
year’s Art of the Real.
not get much more epistolary than this. Aside from a few meta interludes in which
the readers analyze their respective characters and maybe flirt a bit, the
script for Dreamed Ones consists
entirely of the poets’ letters. Their words are indeed heavy. It quickly
becomes apparent they both had a knack for writing the last things the other
wished to read. Often they respond too quickly in the heat of the moment or
allow day-to-day business to forestall their replies longer than they should
have, yet they never really broke off from each other or had a moment of
volume of correspondence mounts, we hear Celan develop a persecution complex,
but as an anti-Communist Jewish-Romanian Holocaust survivor, it is hard to
judge his paranoia harshly. In fact, as the daughter of National Socialists and
the wife of Swiss playwright Max Frisch, who was often perceived as a fellow traveler,
Bachmann must have had a great many inherited political-ideological-cultural
differences with Celan, but Beckermann almost exclusively focuses on the
credit of Anja Plaschg and Laurence Rupp, Dreamed
Ones proves how little is truly required to realize good drama. The
co-leads read Beckermann’s collected letters with the sensitivity they deserve
and develop some potent chemistry together, both “in” and “out’ of character.
Still, film is an inherently visual medium, so nobody need feel embarrassed if
Beckermann’s static approach makes them feel a tad antsy. Despite Johannes
Hammel’s warm, rich cinematography, Dreamed
Ones also feels like a radio play artificially exported to the big screen.
Dreamed Ones’ limitations are indeed obvious and not
inconsiderable, but it is impressive to see how Plaschg and Rupp challenge and
exceed expectations for screen performance. Recommended for those who can
appreciate its seemingly contradictory poetic soul and minimalist aesthetic, The Dreamed Ones screens this coming
Tuesday (4/19) at the Beale, as part of this year’s Art of the Real.
Labels: Art of the Real '16, Austrian Cinema, Paul Celan