Sweet Dreams


The Screening Room @VTIFF Sun, Jun 2 3:00 PM


Turns out, maybe colonialism isn’t so great after all. And Ena Sendijarevic’s magnificent Sweet Dreams, one of the best films of 2023, “captures the putrefaction of colonial rule with a morbid sense of humor” (Slant).

Set in the Dutch East Indies at the dawn of the 20th century, Sweet Dreams focuses on the aftermath of the death of a Dutch sugar-plantation owner. His widow summons their children from the Netherlands for the reading of the will, believing that the passing-on of the estate is a mere formality. Surprises await.

Beautiful to look at, but with acid running its veins, Sweet Dreams manages to find a tone that is both enraged and icily detached. There’s a formality to the proceedings, which are rendered with striking cinematography and sound/production/costume design, but  Sendijarevic’s vision has plenty of room for playfulness as well, mixing wit and surrealism with its none-too-subtle message.

The result is a ravishing movie with lots to say. This is just the second feature film from Bosnian-Dutch writer/director Ena Sendijarevic, and she is definitely a major talent to watch.