Another Hole in the Head 2015: Reveries of a Solitary Walker
Reveries of a Solitary Walker begins with an appropriate title card quoting gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, “When the going gets weird, the weird turns professional,” before diving into its own weird fantasy world built from various types of mixed-media. In this first full-length film from Italian director Paolo Gaudio, elements of live-action and claymation are mixed together to form a unique illustration. The story follows three different characters, each in different time periods and media type, as they encounter the unfinished work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Gaudio begins mixing visual styles early on, when an absinthe drinking poet (presumably hallucinating) flips out when the paper he’s writing on comes to life and slithers into the desk drawer in stop-motion fashion. Capping off this reverie scene, the poet dives headfirst into the bottomless drawer and gets swallowed up by it, which highlights Gaudio’s nifty visual techniques and reveals the surrealism style found in these stories.
While Reveries of a Solitary Walker is without a doubt an impressive visual feat, the film lacks steady pacing and tone. This is most noticeable in the storyline involving two modern-day students working a thesis on Rousseau unfinished work. When compared to the other two tales, this section contains nearly all of the dialogue and very little of the whimsical creativity found in the other areas. Gaudio demonstrates his gift for creating magical set pieces, but it’s difficult to admire anything beyond the visuals and good intentions of this uneven film.