Friday, June 03, 2005
The Dust Factory
A film I wanted to like, but don't quite know what to make of.

Watched The Dust Factory today. I keep renting these films that sound hella intriguing, but for whatever reason I haven't been able to see. This one finally made the list of films eligible for my unlimited rentals thing, so I watched it today.

So you have this kid Ryan, he's maybe 13 or 14. His dad died when he was nine, and presumably he hasn't spoken since. His grandpa has Alzheimer's disease. His grandma dies, and it kind of screws with his head a bit. Pretty early on in the film, he has an accident and falls from a bridge into a lake.

When he climbs out of the lake, things seem different. He makes his way back home. No-one is there except Grandpa, who suddenly seems lucid. He meets a girl named Melanie who wears a winter coat even though it's the middle of summer. She twirls around all the time. The sun never sets.

Turns out they're all in a sort of limbo place called The Dust Factory. It's where people go when they're kind of in-between life and death. Ryan is there because he had his accident. Grandpa is there because of his Alzheimer's, which he doesn't seem to know he has. It's a strange surreal sort of place.

The centerpiece of it is a circus big top, staffed by horrific mimes and a sinister mute ringmaster. When people decide that it's time to leave The Dust Factory, the only way to leave is to try their luck on the trapeze. They do a flip, and the trapeze artist tries to catch them. If he catches them, they're tossed into the air and vanish. This means that they've moved on (died, I guess). If he drops them, they turn into a pile of dust. This means that they live, and go back to being conscious and aware in the real world.

When someone moves on, all the residents of The Dust Factory have a big party. Crazy Grandpa keeps urging Melanie to DANCE! DANCE! all the time. Melanie dances all the time. She can also ice skate on the lake, even though it isn't frozen over. Turns out that when Melanie had her accident, it was winter. So it's always winter for Melanie.

Melanie and Ryan fall in love. Crazy Grandpa keeps shouting DANCE! DANCE! The sinister mute ringmaster stalks them, and some pretty creepy stuff happens. The Dust Factory is not an entirely safe place.

Eventually, everyone has to go on the trapeze, there's no escaping it. This ends in kind of a confusing and unsatisfying way. I think the essence of the film is supposed to be about Ryan's journey, or vision quest or whatever. It's a very interesting premise, and the bulk of the film was engaging. But the ending left me with too many questions. Also, I think it was maybe intended for kids. I don't know much about kid mentality, but I'm guessing that perhaps they're unconcerned about emotionally fulfilling endings...