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Paracosm [Bahadir Karasu, Turkey, 2018]

Lucid dreams seem to have become a bit of a trend. From Vanilla Sky [Cameron Crowe, USA, 2001] to the more recent dystopias of Black Mirror [UK, 2011– ], the ability to harness the subconscious has made for some gripping tales.

Bahadir Karasu’s Paracosm joins this budding genre with its exploration of dreams, drugs and fate. The story opens with Mesut, who, unhappily married to Lale, takes mysterious pills to escape into a world of his own making and find the woman of his dreams literally.

Only in dreams

One main strength of this short is its beautifully obscure visuals. The opening scene of Mesut’s legs wading through electric blue water is immediately arresting, and captures the feeling of dreams, which sometimes feel just like real life but in a different medium.

Karasu’s use of colour is also particularly good. The simultaneous crossover and contrast between the bright, overly vibrant turquoise of the dreams and the drab urban blues of waking life creates an interesting relationship between Mesut’s imagination and reality. The boundaries between the two lives are blurred, as constant rain and marine hues in Mesut’s waking life echo the seascape of his subconscious. Similarly, the sound of his alarm interweaves with the ethereal music of his dream to create a sense of aural ambiguity.

These stunning scenes make the film captivating to watch, but epic journeys into the subconscious, such as Netflix’s recent series Maniac [USA, 2018], all too often centre on a heterosexual couple finding each other in any number of adventurous ways. While these plots give a pleasingly neat sense of ‘meant to be’ fate, they squeeze out many more interesting ideas by focusing too much on finding ‘the one’. For instance, in Paracosm, it might have been more interesting to learn about the pills and Lale’s reaction to Mesut’s final choice instead of the former’s quest for one woman. Although the film escapes this well-worn trap by the skin of its teeth with one small final twist, it would have been better had it departed completely from this unoriginal plotline.

This short is yet another example of how fascinating, troubling and beautiful the subconscious mind can be. It is also a showcase of Karasu’s potential as a filmmaker, which is complemented by the convincing acting of the whole cast. If this crew were to focus their talents on a more original storyline, it would give us all something decent to dream about.


'Paracosm' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.


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