Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the fantasy/drama ALOYS by writer/director Tobias Nolle. To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:
"A lonely private investigator is contacted by a mysterious woman who pulls him into a mind game known as 'telephone walking'. Fascinated by her voice, Aloys discovers an imaginary universe that may allow him to break out of his isolation."
It should be clear from the plot description that this is not a horror feature, but that does not take away its impact. This film creates such an overpowering atmosphere of melancholy that it is hard not to feel the crippling sense of isolation that the lead is experiencing. This detachment was so well crafted that, while it may not be traditionally scary, it played effectively on the human fear of having to live a life where the only person who understands us has passed away.
Thanks to some clever visual cues, it becomes clear very quickly that the world Aloys inhabits is a morose, alienating place complete with low lighting and boxy interiors. The sets are splashed in drab or muted colors which, combined with the dim illumination, brings to mind hospital hallways or funeral parlors. Given that the first half of this deals strong with death and isolation, it seems appropriate that we are not allowed to break out of the stilted color scheme until Aloys begin to imagine a way out of his isolation.
These fantasy sequences are where both the light and the levity of the piece begin to shine through as we see Aloys starting to reconnect with society. During these moments we are suddenly treated to outdoor scenes, natural light, and visions of his dream girl joining him on his adventures. It is amazing how much of an impression the visual element of these scenes makes, as a sense of hope begins to be instilled in us just due to the vibrancy of Aloys' fantasies.
All of this clever design work augments the strong performances provided by our two lead actors who effectively portray the journey from isolation to connection. It is important in a movie playing with such great contrasts to have reliable performers, like our two main leads, that can bring to life the tonal shifts convincingly. Thanks to their realistic portrayals, even the more fantastical scenes feel rooted in the real world because we completely buy these two as fully realized people.
All in all, this is an emotional film that plays upon the ideas of how we connect with others when our world falls apart. The intimately intense story is backed up by some stellar performances, wonderful set design, and a well realized atmosphere. Fans of LARS AND THE REAL GIRL (2007) and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004) will find just as much to chew over in this feature.
The Creeping Craig