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Strawberry Mansion


Stars: Kentucker Audley, Penny Fuller, Grace Giowicki, Reed Birney, Linas Phillips, Constance Shulman

Director: Albert Birney, Kentucker Audley

A surrealist film that's weird in a good way; Salvador Dali would have loved this one, a cinematic original of such vivid imagination that you can overlook the sometimes leisurely pace.

It's 2035 and Preble (co-director and co-writer Audley) is a drone who almost never takes his trilby off and lives in a pink room where his every want is supplied by Buddy (Phillips), a hologram representing the state agency that dominates Preble's life.

The agency keeps a tally of people's dreams, all of which are taxed according to their content. Preble, a dream tax auditor, is headed for the mansion of the title, whose occupant, 80-year-old Bella Isadora (Fuller) welcomes him with 'Out of my hair and into my house. To enter you must lick the ice-cream cone'.

Cone licked and mansion entered, Preble finds that Bella, who describes herself as an 'atmosphere creator', and gives him strawberries and dandelion tea, has logged hundreds of hours of dreams, all untaxed on old VHS tapes. Preble must go through the lot to tally a tax total and is compelled to stay in the house and enter Bella's dream world.

What he finds has him saying 'I think I'm losing my mind', to which Bella replies 'Well, it's about time'. She supplies him with an illuminated headset which enables him to keep the agency's algorithms at bay and experience life as well as dreams. He finds his hologrammatic self embarking on adventures with a younger Bella (Giowicki) as well as man-sized mice, enigmatic monsters and creatures covered in grass or plastic.

Wow, there's some imagination involved here for sure, to the sound of appropriately dreamlike music suppled by Don Deacon. This may not be everyone's cup of dandelion tea, but it certainly was mine.

David Quinlan

USA 2020. UK Distributor: Bulldog Film Distribution . Colour by Colorlab.
91 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 16 Sep 2022