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Songs for a Fox (Dainos Lapei)

Lithuanian fantasy drama investigates the power of dreams; sadly the outcome is soporific rather than oneiric - from the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

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This Pan-Baltic co-production blends fantasy genre devices, Greek mythology, rock music and animation, employing crew from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The cast is predominantly Lithuanian, which is also the language of this ambitious 125-minute creation.

Young and handsome Dainius (Lukas Malinauskas) is a sensitive musician living a solitary life deep inside the woods. His beloved Justina has tragically passed away, and his life consists mostly of mourning and longing, while trying to connect with his bereaved lover through his dreams. He even hires a “dream assistant”, a local boy who was very close to Justine. He keeps Justine’s ashes in an urn and one day sends them down a foxhole on the back of a little toy train for a very bizarre “burial”. The ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice is discussed, drawing parallels to Dainius’s own predicament. In the Greek myth, Orpheus goes underground in order to bring back his dead wife.

Dainius and his assistant are mostly cut from the real world, barely leaving the forest dwelling. Outside threats do however come to them, such as two criminals looking to wreak havoc, and a very mysterious drone that often flies above their heads. At one point, Dainius has to attend a police station, when some key revelations surface and Dainius’s own character is brought into question. He eventually returns to his partial and voluntary confinement, allowing his lonely existence and dreams to intertwine. This is a film dotted with random signifiers and symbolism, attempting to blur the line between reality and allegory.

The problem is that the first three thirds of the film are very laborious and unimaginative. The technical wizardry consists mostly of lighting up the forest dome resembling a a giant yurt in which Dalnius lives with different colours, and some strange prop devices such as a giant clock with emoticons instead of numbers. The middle-of-the-road cinematography fails to create a truly dreamy atmosphere, leaving viewers to snooze away to their very own personal fantasies. This changes in the final third of the film, when vibrant hues and boisterous creatures suddenly populate the screen, the film morphing into some sort of Lithuanian Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Lithuanian indie rock act Siaures Kryptis provides the energetic and aggressive backdrop to this finale. Some sort of juvenile My Bloody Valentine. There is a music performance in a makeshift stage in the woods so wonderfully kitsch that it would make the perfect Eurovision act, if only the EBC allowed full frontal male nudity. A climax a little to late into a film lasting more than two hours. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face – if you are still awake.

Songs for a Fox has just premiered in Competition at the 25th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.


By Victor Fraga - 22-11-2021

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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