Soulful in its dreamlike state and heartfelt journey, The Wanting Mareis a stunning piece of visual poetry. Utilizing magnificent landscapes another world is painted in the near distant future where the desire for escape sweats out of the pores of every inhabitant. There’s rumor of a land of ever winter where the mountains are peaked with snow and the winds chill in constant stir, but only those who possess a proper ticket will make the crossing.
This ticket comes to represent a thing much greater than a simple voyage for those in pursuit of it. A woman finds a man dying in a hallway and saves his life only to ask if he has a ticket. When he asks what for, she tells him of a dream. Moira (Jordan Monaghan) tells the man, Lawrence (Josh Clark) that she dreams every night of the world before. Lawrence promises to find her a ticket only to return with a child he found washed ashore. Then he is never seen again. Years pass and a man named Hadeon (Edmond Cofie) has finally found a ticket, though it is stained in blood. A woman by the name of Eirah (Yasamin Keshtkar) is seen guiding a horse through the city and asks Hadeon if she could stable the horse with him for the night. After spending the night, Hadeon confides that he has two tickets and wants Eirah to go with him. They plan to escape but the next day she is found shot dead by an old man, one who knows her and whose dream she comes from; someone he was once very close to and a dream that was once his.
Woven in between these various tales is a string tracing the lineage of a dream. Each character is delivered with a powerful performance that begs existential questions about the ticket and what it represents. Each has a different dream and yet each is somehow related to the others’ pursuit for freedom and what it means.
In a complex and emotive exploration, Nicholas Ashe Bateman delivers a captivating vision of what it is to dream. Utilizing a handheld camera and beautiful backdrops, a surreal world is envisioned within the lense and serves a magnificent palette to compliment the pulse of the story unfolding on screen. The camera loosely guides and sits beside the main characters with a certain out-of-body tone one might experience in their own dreams. Filled with colors and landscape, every shot feels larger than the frame, a world being captured by lens rather than shaped for it.
While dialogue is sparse between characters, only what’s important is said and it’s in the vision where one finds the truth of the story. Actors sit with subtle pauses, portrait shots capture their faces and from their eyes a story of love, dreams and possibility is shown. To say too much about this movie is to do it a disservice as it’s more than something that can be put into words but is instead an experience. Through the language of moving image, Bateman captures the beat of a heart and what makes us dream in his epic expressionism that pulses through The Wanting Mare.