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The Independent Critic

Demi Wetzel, Ellie Parker, John Hmurovic, Megan Jones, Steve Small and Cindy Maples
Lewis D. Chaney, Neil Kellen
9 Mins.

 "Elysian" Review 
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There are certain films that simply beg to be experienced without a full awareness of what to expect.

Elysian is such a film.

Co-directed by Lewis D. Chaney and Neil Kellen, Elysian emphasizes atmosphere and imagery rather than linear storytelling in painting a world that exists between life and whatever exists on another plane. The story of Elysian is painted with very few words, in fact none until the film's final moments. Instead, Chaney and Kellen allow the film's images, the body language of the actors and even the film's original music, courtesy of Mina Fedora, to draw the viewer into the story.

Elysian starts off with a woman who appears to be joyous and at peace, surrounded by a pool of water and fully alive within her surroundings. Within moments, however, this woman hears the not so faint squeaking of a playground merry-go-round and with it is a disheveled young girl of no more than ten or eleven-years-old. The two initially approach each other cautiously, but before long they are hand in hand. Then, an older man enters the scenario who seems more concerned with lighting a cigarette than he does with his otherwise distracted female counterparts.

Then, Elysian becomes rather dark and ominous yet, even still, rather mysterious and magical.

In exploring the "other world," Elysian doesn't necessarily tread any new ground but the ground it does tread it does so with absolute conviction and hypnotic beauty. Chaney and Kellen do the camera work, which is poetic in the way that it lingers with our performers' bodies while never becoming pretentious or self-aware. While words are not spoken, our young woman (Demi Wetzel) and young girl (newcomer Ellie Parker) look and feel connected in a way that transcends even what is unfolding on the screen. Wetzel projects a fluid intentionality that flows marvelously within the life force of the film, while the young Parker exudes both an innocence and a vulnerability that would make you think she'd acted dozens of times before.

It is a tad difficult to watch a film such as Elysian without pondering other films with similar themes, including such works as What Dreams May Come and, even moreso for this critic, the Peter Jackson film The Lovely Bones, which unevenly yet vividly portrayed both the very human and the very spiritual sides of life. While that is not precisely what is going on with Elysian, many of the feelings that I experienced in The Lovely Bones came to the surface again during this film.

For more information on Elysian, visit the film's IMDB page listed above and Chaney and Kellen have now placed the film on Youtube for your viewing pleasure. For those who can embrace and appreciate the more experimental side of indie cinema, Elysian is a film not to be missed.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic