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Vision Quest

Quirky up-and-coming comedian Zach Galifianakis takes the lead of a much lower-radar film pre-"Hangover."

“Visioneers,” seen June 3 at the 92Y Tribeca, is a thoroughly original film, a creative blend of “1984” and “Brazil”-inspired dystopia, mixed with social satire.

What makes it different though is it has a beating heart underneath its seemingly anaesthetized world. The film makes pure use of the stand-up persona of its lead, Zach Galifianakis (see review of his live show at 92Y Tribeca in December), capitalizing on his gift of creating or increasing the awkwardness of scenes and situations.

But this gets ahead of things. Galifianakis plays George Washington Winsterhammerman, the oddly named protagonist who has dreams that he is his namesake, in the middle of a Revolutionary War battle, while sleepwalking through a lot of the rest of his life, lacking interest in his pretty wife, whiling away time inoffensively at a low-level job for a Big Brother-ish corporation that seems to dominate society, having created a world that resembles what it might be like if everyone was on medications to all have the same stable, bland mood.

It’s this premise that sets the stage for sharp social satire, that somehow unexpectedly stays grounded in reality -- although that reality is a warped one. In other words, Galifianakis as the lead, for all the quirk in his performance, conveys humanity and makes the character sympathetic, especially as he later breaks out of that stupor to pursue another woman he’s been pining for. This in turn makes the transformations of Galifianakis’ character by the end of the movie all the more resonant.

It would be hard to claim that “Visioneers,” like Galifianakis’ style of comedy is for everyone, but it is a film that is rewarding to thoughtful audiences.

For information on screenings of “Visioneers,” go to http://www.visioneersthemovie.com/screenings/ 

   

     

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