Ah, the trope of the eccentric mentor and his young, naive pupil. Billy Zane (posh guy from Titanic) and Laurie Calvert respectively star as Elliot and Zel in exciting less-than-90-minute adventure, Lucid.
Zel is a loner, shy and generally weird. He works in the car park of a semi-exclusive members club. He has no friends, he fancies the girl in his tower block, but he is also socially awkward. Along comes Elliot, the eccentric former therapist next door, who offers his services (free of charge!) to Zel, in the hope that the young lad can exist with confidence and mojo – something that is, for now, exclusive to Zel of the dream world. Elliot believes that Zel can extract this by becoming aware that he is in a dream, thus the term: lucid dreaming. In attempting lucid dreaming, Zel is risking his grip on reality and his sanity, all for the love of a woman whose name he does not know. Slightly weird, right?
The truth is, like many mentor figures in sci-fi, Zane completely steals the show as Elliot. The way in which Zane looks, talks, is shot, and overall ambiance on screen, suggests that his character was created with the intention of being the show stealer now and again. After a slightly bland start, Calvert is tremendous as the awkward misfit. Be it as a recluse of sorts in the real world or man of confidence in the dream world, Calvert successfully transitions (convincingly) with the aid of Lucid’s fantastic writer-director, Adam Morse. Sophie Kennedy Clark as Kat, and Felicity Gilbert as Jasmine, are limited in their actions because they are predominantly of Zel’s desires, thus of no relevance elsewhere, though the acting performances are good nonetheless. Cristian Solimeno as Theo, Zel’s boss, is a right bastard too.
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As much a sign of its intimacy and its low-budget scale, Lucid only exists within a handful of locations. Repetitions are apparent in both location and story occurrences, though as negative as that could read, there is a growing admiration and pleasure in revisiting the car park booth, the darkened nightclub and the couch within Elliot’s apartment.
Throughout, there is a strong emphasis on female desire – even slightly perverse at times. Zel’s sexual desire is central to his journey in becoming more open and “normal”. Essentially, Zel is sexually frustrated. The flaw, however, is that Zel’s desire for a relationship with a female neighbour in his apartment building feels too random, too out of the blue, and quite hollow. As Lucid progresses, female desires adjust, and this aspect becomes even weaker, sadly.
More positively, Lucid is a film which works so well in blending what’s ‘real’ and ‘fake’ within the world of the film, an explicit interest and intrigue in the content is established and a strong connection is made with the audience. Importantly, Lucid is exciting and adventurous enough to produce an intensity for its viewer. Risk, danger and uncertainty is there for the audience to experience alongside Zel. Slightly reminiscent of last year’s Ready Player One, there is an underlying idea that a fake world can be used to act strong in, only in the hope to ultimately better oneself in the real world.
Ultimately, Lucid does have the feel of existing as a one-off TV drama, for its thought-provoking and audience-challenging visuals. In terms of the respective careers of Calvert and Zane, Lucid could very well be a terrific launch into the British mainstream for the former, whilst for the latter, Lucid acts as a charming cameo for a veteran actor.