August 29, 2010 § 2 Comments
This summer’s biggest movie was Inception. Christopher Nolan’s big-budget spectacular focused on one thing that continues to evade human understanding: dreams. Dreams capture our interest because they are mysterious and as much as we understand the mechanics or physiology behind them, we never really grasp what they are all about. Most of them are fleeting, gone with the morning sun, but some stay with us and we don’t know why. Sometimes they mean something, but most of the time they mean nothing, and yet we continue to dream.
Dreams are the jumping off point of a movie I watched recently called Ink (Jamin Winans, 2009). But unlike Inception, Ink wants its dreams to count for more. Winans uses dreams as a way to describe the presence of things unseen, veering into deeper territory than Nolan mined in Inception. Ink centers around a business man, John (Chris Kelly), and his relationship with his daughter, Emma (Quinn Hunchar). This, the main thrust of the film, is surrounded by two groups of unseen characters, The Storytellers and the Incubi (plural of Incubus).
The Storytellers come to you while you are sleeping and give you good dreams, while the Incubi come with nightmares. The film really begins when a mysterious character named Ink kidnaps Emma in her dreams, which means she can’t wake up in the real world. We follow Ink and Emma through the dream world, as in the real world John is facing a big business deal that could destroy his career if it doesn’t come through. When John refuses to come see his daughter, now in a coma, we know that truly lives for himself and no one else. This is confirmed later as we John followed by an Incubus who whispers in his ear day and night.
This sets in motion a chain of reactions that would be unfair for me to disclose, because this independent movie truly is a treat to watch and ponder. Its small budget for a film of this genre doesn’t stop it from being visually interesting, as Winans employs several filters and color schemes to bring out different parts of the dream worlds. And occasionally the script tries a little too hard, but I would rather a script that tries to provoke thought and does it poorly at times than one that never attempts it at all. The thing, however, that stood out most to me as I watched, was the conviction that Winans invests in these unseen characters.
They are every bit as real as John and Emma. The movie doesn’t conclude with Emma and John both waking up and having dreamed of the Storytellers and Incubi, but continues to posit them as real beings. We are forced to take them seriously as they struggle against each other, and by doing so are made to consider the possibility that in our world there may be things like this happening. There may be more than we see on the surface. As a Christian, it’s a vibrant picture of spiritual warfare, especially in some of the film’s impressive fight sequences.
Ink succeeds by creating a world that is believable that evokes thought. For as much as I liked Inception and the many things it did well, it barely scraped the surface of deeper issues. This is what Ink does well and with a measure of creativity that far exceeds its budget. Highly recommended.
Filmwell‘s very insightful review of Ink can be found here.