I'm not sure what I think of THE WANTING MARE. There definitely is something to it but I' not sure the mad passion some people have for it is wholly warranted.
The film is set in a post apocalytic world. The action takes place in a city by the sea where it is always oppressively hot. The people make money by selling the horses that roam on the beach once a year to a city across the sea where it is always cold. There are very rare tickets on the boat to the other city which many people want. Off the coast of the city is a small island where a woman lives. She is the latest in a long line of woman who have the same dream every night. She dies in child birth laving her daughter to sort out the dream and the world on her own. The story then jumps through time to follow the daughter and the granddaughter and the people around them.
Shot for almost no money in a warehouse in Brooklyn the film has an eerie ethereal quality to it that harkens to the computer generated worlds of filmmaker Dave McKean (MIRROR MASK, GOSPEL OF US and LUNA). It is a world barely populated, where everything is either vast open spaces or closed in rooms. Much is left off screen. Things such as emotion, are clear while any sense of the world outside the characters is eft mysterious.
Very much an allegory or parable this is a film you either fall in love with or you don't. While I admire the look and feel of the film, the rest of it just kind of leaves me adrift. It all feels like writer director Nicholas Ashe Bateman is trying way to hard to make something magical and special instead of just telling the story. I know Bateman was struggling with a nonexistent budget and went to town with the visuals, but at the same time they kind of distance us from the story at it's heart because we are always looking at the pretty pictures and not getting close to the characters. I can't help but feel this is a show real as opposed to a story Bateman needed to tell from his soul. I say that because much of the promotional and PR material is on the making of the film and not on the passion of the story.
In all honesty this film sat with me for a couple of days before I sorted my feelings out enough to write on it. I couldn't figure out what was bothering me. And then it hit me. To me this isn't a film, this is a stage play. The structure, the look, the language are all things that would look great on stage. I could easily see this on stage at the New York Theater Workshop, or the Atlantic or Public Theater where the real world space between characters and audience would let us fall into it. Not only that, but the fact that we don't see the herds of horses or the world at large that we hear about but never see doesn't work in a movie. On stage it would never be questioned.
While not bad, THE WANTING MARE is never great.
THE WANTING MARE is released digitally and into select cinemas Friday