Lithuanian writer-director Kristina Buozyte’s second feature “Aurora” [Eng. Title: Vanishing Waves] is a stylish sci-fi concerning a romance between a neuroscientist and a young woman in coma.
Lukas (Marius Jampolskis) is recruited for a scientific experiment to test a technology that might aid communication with someone in a state of coma – the person he doesn’t know but assigned to connect with is a non-responsive accident victim named Aurora (Jurga Jutaite). Lukas isn’t furnished details, and is instructed to merely observe and report back without interacting directly with the subject, for ethical and safety reasons.
But that is what he does after the experiment turns out to be far more successful than expected – he sees a beautiful and sensuous Aurora for the very first time in her abstract (psychic) world, floating in the water unconscious, and his attempt at reviving her will turn into a full-blown snog-fest between the two. During the next session he emerges in front of a funky modernist bungalow, and finding Aurora waiting inside – welcoming and sexual, even makes love to her. But Lukas doesn’t disclose this and the experiment’s efficacy to his colleagues, and lies to them instead of briefly having seen a man’s face. Infatuated with Aurora, he wants to prolong his sensual experience in her psychic world, whilst also hoping to help her gain consciousness in the real world.
Behind Lukas’ actions and his preoccupation with sex is his obsessive work ethic and an unstable marriage to Lina (Martina Jablonskyte). A sensual and always available Aurora, even if only through a dream, fulfils his physical needs that’ll draw him closer to her emotional self, and also some dark secrets from her past. Aurora’s unfortunate condition, on the other hand, meant that while she can see and hear in the landscape of her mind, she can’t feel a thing – whether it is pain when bitten, or pleasure through fine food, and possibly sex too. It is her memory of these experiences, and the past trauma that led to her vegetative state, that’ll evoke any feelings of pleasure or pain that she craves.
Watching the film, I couldn’t help recalling Tarkovsky’s Solaris, even if the protagonist’s object of love is the exact opposite there – a physically present clone of his dead wife, as opposed to Aurora, who is alive, but given a shape and form only in mind. The unsettling ambience is similar in both films, which in this case is aided by an imaginative soundtrack from Peter Von Poehl – haunting, brooding, and eerie as the scene dictates. The film’s other production values are equally impressive – right from the cinematography, editing, production design, special effects, and even the make-up, thanks largely to the film’s co-writer and ‘creative director’ Bruno Samper.
Jurga Jutaite, with her natural, uninhibited performance, and certainly her exquisite physique, looks every bit the ‘imagined’ character of Aurora, even if in reality, she’s as down-to-earth as can be during the festival interviews. Marius Jampolskis gives a restrained, if slightly underwhelming performance as the dazed and smitten Lukas. Ms. Buozyte, an admirer of Antonioni, is refreshingly modest in apportioning the film’s achievements to her creative and technical team. But of course, we all know that it requires an uncompromising director to bring out the best in anyone, however talented he or she might be. And the result is there to see, with some spectacular imagery and memorable sequences that’ll forever be associated with this film – the bungalow made from splinters, the erotic and disturbing orgy when bodies merge into one another, and the enchanting scene of Aurora and Lukas rolling and sliding naked on a floor bathed in streams of light, to name but a few. Highly Recommended Viewing..!
The Nudity: Jurga Jutaite, Marius Jampolskis, and Martina Jablonskyte
The film contains several scenes of sex and nudity between the characters played by Jurga Jutaite and Marius Jampolskis, executed with great care and precision. There is also brief nudity from Martina Jablonskyte who plays Lukas’ wife Lina, in a scene when she almost gets assaulted sexually. Other uncredited nudes appear during an orgy scene.