Originally published by The Spinning Image, February 2017
The clown-faced Wanderer (Fabrizio Federico) sits at a table on which has been placed a meal of spaghetti and wine and he proceeds to amuse himself by taking his finger and running it around the rim of the glass, creating a tone he feels mesmerised by. After he has done that, it’s time to eat, but instead of taking a fork and picking up the pasta that way, he grabs a handful and stuffs it into his mouth, messy eater that he is, and some falls down his front. Then he gets up and walks away from the table, but the sense of occasion overwhelms him and he collapses in a heap in the corridor, commencing his journey…
That would be a journey into the dimensions of his mind, then, in a film lasting just over an hour that its creators Daniel Fawcett and Clara Pais, working under the collective moniker The Underground Film Studio, preferred to be left open to the audience’s interpretation. Also appearing onscreen, though not even their families would recognise them, they admitted much of his had been inspired by dreams and the mystic arts, and you could certainly say it looked that way, a riot of solarised colour that often left the viewer feeling as if they were scrying over a bowl of water, trying to fathom some coherent image from the ripples and play of light on its surface and not entirely succeeding, truth be told.
You know those nature documentaries that tell you about what your pets are really thinking about, well In Search of the Exile was like one of those clips where they illustrated how your cat saw the world, with its concentration on shifting hues and movement that the feline could divine its own sense from. There was an actual cat to be noted here too, and a dog, though there were other humanoid shapes to be seen other than The Wanderer (nothing to do with Dion) which performed arcane rituals or their own dance moves, not strutting their funky stuff, more willowy arrangements of their limbs. At times it appeared as if the characters were sporting costumes and masks, even wigs.
The Wanderer certainly lived up to his name, popping up occasionally in between sequences of the camera prowling through undergrowth towards a farmhouse, or a pool of liquid which served up those patterns that were akin to the Stargate sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey only on a far tighter budget. If this sounded to you like the equivalent of watching somebody’s severe migraine, then it was likely you were not about to get along with it to any great degree, however should you feel the need to delve into truly experimental cinema, it was more enjoyable than the superficially similar Begotten, perhaps because the directors chose to film in colour, so it was at least more attractive to look at even if you did not buy into the mystical side of it, and the music, often droning, otherwise almost reluctantly tuneful, helped deliver a sense of importance (or portentousness, anyway) to the imagery. Basically, if your name was Gandalf or Galadriel, whether that be because your parents gave you that or if you chose it yourself, you would find much to enjoy here.