Monday, October 3, 2011
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
In this oddball Czech film, a pubescent girl undergoes a sexual awakening, via a journey through a weird dream world of ghouls, vampires, and lots of lesbians.
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders isn't a horror movie in the normal sense. It's more of a surreal art film with a fair amount of horror-influenced imagery. It's main aim is to strike a partly beautiful, partly nightmarish dream-like tone and sustain it for an entire film. Appropriately, I was kinda tired myself when I watched it (had to start and stop it a few times while I drifted in and out), and so it played even more like a series of odd, semi-connected images than I've heard it already comes across as. In other words, I'm a little hazy on the story specifics, but it sounds to me like most other viewers are, too.
I don't think there's anything bold, or unique, or striking enough here that would put it on the level of Lynch or Bunuel, but it's still got some solid atmosphere and some memorable imagery. It looks fairly low budget, but manages to nail that elusive, half-remembered nightmare feeling even with its limited means. I'd say the main problem is the frequent menstrual and sexual symbolism grows stale pretty quickly, and the atmosphere gets repetitive and isn't really enough to hold interest, even for the film's brief run time of only 75 minutes or so.
A note of interest to at least one person who might read this: the film was supposedly a serious influence on Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves, and although it's been a long time since I've seen it, I'd say the tones of the two movies are pretty similar. So if you liked that one, this one is worth your time as well.