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By David Finkelstein | September 6, 2011

“To Dream of Falling Upwards,” the newest production from underground filmmaker Antero Alli, is a kaleidoscopic spin of mysticism, raw emotions and the thirst for power.

The central setting is a religious order known as the Temple of Horus. The dying elder chieftain of the temple has groomed Jack Mason – known as a “sex-magickian” – as his successor, but that is thwarted when the older man’s long-estranged son abruptly arrives and manipulates a deathbed contract that gives him the temple’s control. The new successor wants to commercialize the temple, though Mason decides to bring revenge against this eager upstart.

The in-depth aspects of the film’s alternative theological setting may confuse some viewers, but its universal story of revenge, jealousy and obsession will easily crossover to wider audiences. And Alli’s playful sense of humor – complete with a would-be truth-seeker wondering why he needs to wear a cabbage on his head as part of his pursuit of knowledge – percolates throughout the work.

In terms of style, “To Dream of Falling Upwards” evokes Dreyer with its tight close-ups, and Sylvi Alli’s music score and sound engineering provides an appropriately otherworldly soundtrack to the surreal-yet-familiar proceedings.

One quibble: at 125 minutes, the film somewhat overstays its welcome. But for those with patience for the unusual and the provocative, Alli’s latest is a memorable experience.

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