Director – Adam Morse – 2018 – UK – Cert. 15 – 86m
Available on Sky, Virgin, iTunes, Amazon, Xbox, PlayStation, Microsoft from Monday, September 7th
After his clearly well-heeled mother (Sadie Frost) gives Zel (Laurie Calvert) a thick envelope of notes for the last time, he goes out and gets himself a job as car park attendant at an exclusive members club. This involves sitting in a small booth with a window and making the monied customers feel welcome as they drive in in their flash cars. It also involves putting up with smart-suited but boorish boss Theo (Cristian Solimeno) although the latter’s girlfriend Kat (Sophie Kennedy Clark) proves considerably more friendly.
Meanwhile, Zel has developed a crush on Jasmin (Felicity Gilbert), one of his fellow residents in the block in which his flat in one of the more upmarket bits of Central London is situated, but is too tongue tied to do anything about it. He makes the acquaintance of another neighbour Elliot (Billy Zane), a therapist who offers, for free, to coach him in lucid dreaming, i.e. dreams in which the dreamer is fully conscious. These provide the dreamer with a safe space, for example to talk to a member of the opposite sex they fancy.
Elliot offers guidelines as to how to check the dream is not reality: for example, lucid dreams take place mostly indoors rather than outdoors and you can tell whether or not you’re dreaming by looking at your hands, which check is never adequately explained. Elliot also tells Zel to write his dreams down in a notebook so as to remember them and at one point mentions he’ll take the notebook himself, a worrying suggestion which the film never follows up.
Over several dreams, the lucid Zel goes downstairs from his booth to the club’s bar area with table and stage where the resident band who wear animal masks is playing. After treating Theo like dirt, he watches Jasmin perform a reverse striptease from almost naked to clothed and chats to her with increasing confidence.
He then chats to her in real life and she seems friendly, but an arranged date is cancelled when he sees her at her studio get into a car to the airport having just landed her dream job for 12 months in Las Vegas. Kat, meanwhile, has taken a fancy to Zel…
Any sympathy one might feel for Zel is tempered by his well off background and current lodgings: you feel he’s never really had to struggle and this seems at odds with the frankly lousy job he’s landed at the club. Laurie Calvert plays him as a bit of a drip, which doesn’t help, although he becomes more likeable as the narrative progresses and his confidence grows.
More effectively, Sadie Frost delivers her last envelope with a suitable sense of finality. Later, Billy Zane’s Elliot takes you in as the neighbour offering what may or may not be good counsel while Sophie Kennedy Clark’s Kat has a twinkle in her eye and Cristian Solimeno’s Theo manages to be genuinely unpleasant.
If the premise is highly original you can’t help but feel more could have been done with it in both writing and execution. It’s very watchable, though, and benefits greatly from a clutch of well cast bit parts.
What makes this much more interesting – and, indeed, remarkable – is that writer-director-producer Morse is registered blind and suffers from vision impairment. The idea of a central character trying to improve his confidence through visualising and talking through events in the medium of dreams can therefore be seen as a metaphor for Morse’s achievement here and, more generally, for achieving things despite the obstacle presented by blindness. Once you know that, Calvert’s strange performance makes more sense, as if he’s not really using his eyes outside of the lucid dreams themselves.
Lucidis out on Virgin, iTunes, Amazon, Xbox, PlayStation, Microsoft in the UK from Monday, September 7th.