Our lives are rooted in fairy tales.
As children, we learn about the world around us through folklore that has been passed down through generations.
It’s a cross-cultural glue that forms a shared, common bond and connects us with our ancestors and our distant past. Often the theme is that there are things that go bump in the night that need to be avoided at all cost.
I’m thinking of the Grimm brother’s story of Hansel and Gretel and the perils of venturing off into the dark forest where you might encounter a terrifying witch and be tossed into an oven.
The cautionary lesson here is that the world is fraught with danger.
Entwined works on that level.
Essentially, it’s an adult fairy tale set in modern day Greece.
A young physician decides to become the local doctor in a remote Greek village in the mountains that time and the modern world seems to have forgotten.
Things get off to a bad start before he even arrives when he accidentally hits a young woman with his car on a dark, deserted road.
Before he can attend to her, she disappears into the forest.
In the days that follow, he seeks her out and eventually finds her in an isolated cottage surrounded by dense vegetation and trees.
She is mysterious to be sure, living with a man old enough to be her grandfather, though an unguarded moment glimpsed through an open window suggests something twisted and disturbing.
In addition to possibly being the victim of an abusive relationship, she suffers from a skin condition that has left lesions on her body that resemble crusty tree bark.
She is a damsel in distress if there ever was one.
And the young doctor, finding himself succumbing to her sad. beautiful face and sweet, thoughtful disposition, decides to come to the rescue.
Before long, he himself is in need of rescue.
After the old man attacks him, becoming injured in the process, the doctor takes the man back to the village for medical treatment and possible interrogation by the local authorities.
Upon returning to the cottage and the young woman, named Danae, things become strange and bizarre.
Time itself seems to be warped in this lost wilderness. Worse yet, he can’t seem to find his way out.
His repeated attempts result in him returning to the cottage.
It’s a baffling predicament right out of The Twilight Zone, or possibly a non-funny version of the famous backstage sequence from Rob Reiner’s This is Spinal Tap (1984).
Unfortunately, at this point of Entwined, the audience becomes as lost as the young doctor. And not in a good way.
Much time is spent hopelessly wandering around in an attempt to exit this woodland prison. There appears to be no escape.
Of course, he becomes entwined in a deepening romantic relationship with the enigmatic young woman.
He becomes fascinated with her poetic, old world philosophy of life and nature and her rejection of modern technology and medical science.
He peels back layers of mystery in his attempt to understand who or what she is.
Unfortunately, what unfolds is not revelatory or logical. It merely becomes a string of events meant to engage the audience with further levels of puzzling mystery.
It’s a shame, because Entwined starts out with such promise.
The first 20 minutes or so are remarkably good, not only in terms of the story set-up but the cinematography, direction and editing as well.
The sequences showing his journey into the vast, picturesque mountains are masterfully shot in muted light and rich, natural color.
But then, the movie subsequently becomes as hopelessly confused as its main character, struggling to find a sense of direction.
The eye-catching photography eventually rachets down to more pedestrian coverage meant to just advance the story.
And the story seems to be grasping for straws in search of surprises to keep the audience aboard.
Yes, there are some shocking surprises along the way, but there are also some illogical moments that simply don’t add up.
No spoilers or giveaways here.
The disappointment here is that the film fails to maintain the level of artistry that it establishes in the first reel or two.
The set-up is quite good. Unfortunately it fails to deliver on the beautifully constructed introduction.
To its credit, Entwined is a subtitled foreign language film in which the subtitles don’t annoyingly distract from the visuals.
Subtitles are not a reason to not see this movie.
Its biggest fault is that it gradually becomes a tale that strays off the path and wanders around aimlessly out of control.
It’s a modern-day fairy tale for adults that alludes to some profound commentary and insights about life and nature, including human nature.
Environmentalists might applaud it.
Romantically, it’s a story in which the two main characters, despite being polar opposites, become emotionally entwined.
Unfortunately, everything else becomes hopelessly entangled.
Entwined opens in virtual theaters August 28 with a North American VOD release to follow on September 8 on all major platforms.
(Photo Credits: Dark Star Pictures)