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When it seems like a film is attempting to become a cinematic work of art, some can pull it off while others cannot.

In Woodshock, Kirsten Dunst plays Theresa, whose mother (Susan Traylor) lies on her deathbed, requesting that Theresa give her a medicinal release. Theresa complies with her mother’s last wishes, then spends a few moments grieving her loss.

Theresa decides to carry on, following her mother’s death, spending time daydreaming, coping, and (possibly) grieving, as she returns to her daily routine. Theresa works as an herbalist, in a shop with Keith (Pilou Asbæk). Her boyfriend Nick (Joe Cole) is often supportive of her whenever he is home to comment. Ed (Steph DuVall) is an older gentleman, who purchases product from their shop for medicinal purposes, while Johnny (Jack Kilmer) stops in the shop to chat with Theresa while his product is being prepared.

The characters live in a lumber town, so shots of tall trees in forests, trees being cut, and various lumberyard activity is often used to connect storyline sequences. Unfortunately, many of these sequences are of Theresa gazing off, wandering through her house, watching light through a drinking glass, and shopping for random supplies. Only half of the film contains dialogue, as Theresa spends much of her time alone and only interacts with characters upon encountering them.

At one point, Theresa decides to sample the product following an incident when she had been distracted in the shop. She begins to hallucinate mildly in the form of flickering double images of herself, neon geometrical shapes in the air, a neon marijuana leaf, and visions of her floating and ascending in a tall forest.

From set photos and the theatrical trailer, it might seem like this film originates from the same ilk as Dunst’s earlier film, Lars Bon Trier’s Melancholia (2011), but alas, it does not.

Woodshock is director Kate Mulleavy and Laura Mulleavy’s first feature film. Previously, they collaborated on Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2011) in the costume and wardrobe department. It may be possible that witnessing the torment of a young woman in the Swan tale, combined with Dunst’s recent indie credit in Melancholia may have led to the inspiration behind the Mulleavy’s recent release. The trouble is, aside from two dramatic moments in the third act, this film tends to drag on a bit and gets uninteresting after a while.

Since the Mulleavys are new to directing, it may be easier to focus on whether this film could be a good pick for a Dunst film night. To that, I say ‘no’. Rent one of her earlier films instead.

Woodcock is streaming now on the following services:
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