DANCES WITH FILMS 2021 REVIEW! Jerry J. White III and Raymond Creamer’s brilliant This is Us is an example of toying with time and dreams in a captivating way. Why then do so many creators overcomplicate and convolute the fantasy elements present in such stories? Dreamover, from the creative mind of writer/director Roman Olkhovka, strikes the perfect balance where the rules get delivered through simple and effective exposition, which allows the actors and the plot to continue without overt complication. This dramatic fantasy is really beautiful and well worth watching for its acting, writing, large heart, and breathtaking cinematography that highlights Moscow’s rich and diverse scenery.
Dmitriy (Ilya Chepyrev) is a lonely, aging man who randomly comes across an advertisement for a clinic that helps treat insomnia and bad dreams. He’s been having a reoccurring nightmare where he is submerged and drowning in a large void of water. The doctor at the clinic provides Dmitriy with a device that replaces his bad dreams with wonderfully vivid pleasant ones. On his first night with the device, he unlocks a forgotten romance between his younger self (Roman Olkhovka) and a gorgeous woman named Masha (Angelina Savchenko).
These new pleasant dreams inspire Dmitriy to reunite with his old friend Max (Sergey Kuznetsov) and take up playing his dusty guitar again. However, as he experiences the ups and eventual downs of his relationship with Masha, he begins to understand how reliving these memories and being doomed to wake up from them might become a nightmare in itself. There are rules involved with these dreams, and Dmitriy is desperate to find a way to break them so that he can manifest the fixed relationship into his reality.
“…unlocks a forgotten romance between his younger self and a gorgeous woman…”
As the older version of the lead in Dreamover, Chepyrev is mesmerizing. He conveys sadness and emptiness with his eyes, and you really feel for his predicament. You want Dmitriy to figure out a way to control his dreams. His loneliness is relatable, and I found myself feeling gut-punched as his desperation became more and more evident. His younger counterpart is more hopeful and confident. Olkhovka’s version of Dmitriy has way more screentime, and he comes off as likable, charming, and a bit aloof. Savchenko is appealing and good as Masha. Kuznetsov, as Max, does great with what he’s afforded. Maksim Govorunets plays the younger Max and has great chemistry with Olkhovka, and I loved watching these two characters speculate about love and romance.
As the plot progresses, we see more nuance and threads that connect Dmitriy’s younger and older self. Masha is a very layered character. She has her own goals and philosophies, and she’s much more than just a boring love interest. There are certain scenes where she almost comes off as cruel and cold, but you can see where she’s coming from when young Dmitriy becomes more manic and aggressive.
Composer Guy Andrews does a phenomenal job. Every piece of music compliments what’s happening on the screen. The color grading is also quite notable; there’s a white and grey, dreary look to accentuate Dmitriy’s lonesome life during the modern-day scenes. Whereas in his dreams, everything is bright and warm to a blatantly unnatural extent. There’s a plethora of amazing camera work, and the crew makes full use of Moscow during its winter and summer seasons. This is one of the most visually stunning low-budget movies I’ve seen in a long time.
If you’re in the mood for a love story with layers with no guarantees of a happy ending, Dreamover is going to be right up your alley.
Dreamover screened at the 2021 Dances With Films.