Time to get our weird on once more. This one’s a bit more on the romantic side, mixing up a little fantasy and some good old WTF vibes. The result is a bit mixed, which means once again this is going to be a very specific brew that will be either your cup of tea or not. Weird is just funny that way, it’s almost as subjective as comedy. Not that there’s any comedy to be found in this film, but there’s plenty of other things to discover.
Strawberry Mansion (2021) was directed by Kentucker Audley. A dream tax auditor, James Preble (Kentucker Audley) is called on to tax several years of dreams from Arabella Isadora (Penny Fuller). In the dreams, Preble meets a young version of Bella (Grace Glowicki) and a strange romance starts. Eventually the line between reality and dreams blurs, if there ever was one in this world. We also get some caricature villains later on to create some conflict, but by then you’re either into these characters or not.
I feel there was a lot of potential in this film. Both Penny Fuller and Grace Glowicki shine as older and younger version of Bella. I did find the character of Preble a little too passive, too sedentary for the main character. It’s hard to be invested in a character to which things happen rather than one that actually causes change. The film also contrasts the antagonists pretty starkly against the leading casts, there’s no space for shades of grey. You’re either good or evil in this world. The visuals are imaginative but how far are you invested is going to depend mostly on the characters. I found the execution a bit slow, but I was still engaged in the story to see it through.
Recommended as a strange and weird fantasy romance with reservations. To its credit the tone remains consistent throughout the film, but I found just a little slow. Bella is an engaging character in both interpretations, but unfortunately James doesn’t have much of a personality. The weirdness that surrounds them might make up for any shortcomings but it’s subjective to the audience. Your mileage might vary depending on your weirdness endurance, but if it’s way up it should be worth a watch.
That will do for now.