Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"The puzzles here are of the sort intended to be enjoyed for their twists and turns rather than their resolution."

Reality becomes a fractured mirror reflecting the disintegrating relationship of married Austrian couple Anna (Birgit Minichmayr) and Nick (Philipp Hochmair) in Greg Zglinski's film. They're planning a six-month mountain chalet getaway to get back on the right track, while she steps up from children's writing to something for adults and he researches a cook book. From the start, something isn't quite right, not least because their house-sitter Mischa (Mona Petri) looks uncannily like their upstairs neighbour Andrea (Petri on double duty), with whom Nick is having an affair.

As they head to the countryside, an accident confuses things further and soon, as the tensions and suspicions between the couple mount, we're not sure whose perspective we're viewing things from - and that's before the talking cat puts in an appearance. While there are Lynch and Polanski references here, there is also a shared sensibility with the films of Christian Petzold, in the blackly comic, cool way Zglinski observes proceedings.

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He developed the script from director Jorg Kalt, who was working on the project when he committed suicide in 2007 - something additional to think about when one character appears to dive head-first from a window and another states, "Animals don't kill themselves".

As a genre piece - perfectly suited to its slot at Fantasia Film Festival - the film has a pleasingly unsettling vibe. Those who like puzzles, will find plenty to pick at, from the way that time seems to flow in odd directions to the unexplained locked doors that are present in both the couple's chalet and home, and it comes as little surprise to learn that the idea originally sprang from MC Escher's Relativity - a lithograph of faceless people climbing, at improbably angles, a never-ending series of staircases.

The puzzles here are of the sort intended to be enjoyed for their twists and turns rather than their resolution, so if you like your conclusions set in stone this may not be for you. But for those who prefer to leave the cinema with plenty to think about, this is the surreal deal.

Reviewed on: 21 Jul 2017
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Reality starts to shift after a couple take a break to try to rebuild their marriage.

Director: Greg Zglinski

Writer: Jörg Kalt, Greg Zglinski

Starring: Birgit Minichmayr, Philipp Hochmair, Mona Petri, Mehdi Nebbou, Michael Ostrowski

Year: 2017

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: Switzerland, Austria, Poland

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