Review for the Croatian animation feature The Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus by Croatian animation filmmaker Dalibor Barić.

 The Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus by Croatian animation filmmaker Dalibor Barić is a careful, rich exercise in personality re/deconstruction.

With a schematic story that brings to mind Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (first part) leaning towards a Ray Bradbury forest utopia (last third), the experimental film persistently makes the case that the personality (body, soul, mind) will need to be cinematically disintegrated, examined -and then check what's left of it.

With a visual tempo that is unerringly varied, diverse and purposeful, Accidental Luxuriance tells the story of a couple (or rather their shadows) Martin and Sarah, entangled in a system that need to get out -and an inspector Ambroz here. The plot is as schematic as it looks, but the dialogue lines are as philosophically-minded as your pocket Kafka or Tarkovsky. Even though ALTWR has more affinities with Andrzej Wadja's Man of Iron mockumentaries-than any of the former.

ALTWR  feels like it comes from the vaults of 60s-70s cold war movies, crafting global surveillance stories to hide everyday suppression of opinion. Business work ethics in the film caters for the service of the strong, while neuroscience is the best weapon for personality deconstruction -being used again and again in an almost cold, and 'death-by-repetition' manner.

The director chooses to leave himself out of the picture -but the artist and the filmmaker is always present, sometimes as a film system servant (who crafts convoluted plots for subjects to get into); at other times, he needs to be the visual 'mix and match' element picker.

Different narrators undertake to carry on the task of engaging with the 80-minute experimental film, which sometimes verges dangerously close to grandiloquent parody; yet Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus is never a visually boring film. It gets your eyes glued on screen via two major directing techniques: dissolving / eliminating people and collating / assembling their parts. Rotoscope usually serves the former function here, cut-out and collage photos the second. There is not a moment spared in explicating about personalities as being essentially the 'nature of a shadow'.

Time itself here needs to be a continuous present, so past and future is compressed to a one-dimensional storyline -as the film itself proclaims, "future is a former construction site abandoned due to lack of funds". Within this enclosure (quarantine is also mentioned), Dalibor Baric does his best to entertain us visually with a moribund essay of human disintegration.

Far away from employing a traditional storytelling device, Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus feels both contingent and orchestrated. Its cinematic affinities ensure audience curiosity, yet watching the film you can't help wondering how things would have turned out for the characters if the VR/XR personality disintegration options came into the narrative play as well. Its artistic direction confirms a mastering of all the disparate elements used, but the film's running time is more relaxed than timely. ALTWR takes you to a somehow distantly-remembered familiar place and situation, and then leaves you all by yourself to check the puzzle solutions and impasses. Here's your disintegration plan.

Vassilis Kroustallis

Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus is now streaming on MUBI

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