Aslak is too young to perceive with all its lethal densities and implications the dramatic urges and the pungent complexities of the world around him; nevertheless, he easily assimilates all the conjuncture upon which pain and suffering are latent, as the movie slowly, but consistently captures the sensibilities of existence from the point of view of the vast innocence and puerility of the young boy, although his acute intelligence warns him against the unwanted frivolities of the adult universe, from which he becomes somewhat protected, doing his best to be cautious and guarded in the cozy refugee of a very personal world. His light blond hair and his profoundly questionable and vigilant green eyes gives an insight about the peculiarities of his relationship with the world around him, how he relates to it, how he understands it, in all the vicinities familiar to him.
In a certain occasion, when his dog escapes, Aslak goes after him. Eventually, he ventures into a vast forest, which is basically obscure unknown territory, and finds a man in a remote cabin. The man seems to be friendly, and both begin to talk. At this point, tough – as Aslak’s mind drives the omniscient grace of the narrative – it’s impossible to know what is real and what is not. Aslak could just be talking and interacting with a product of his own fertile imagination, his psychological device to deal with the pervasive, hostile and disgraceful monotony of reality.
Any significant part of this movie, but especially from the second half onward, could be an extension of Aslak’s dream. He frequently runs down the lake in a boat, sometimes sleeping on it. In several passages, Skyggenes dal has reminded me of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, a movie where the delusional blur between fantasy and reality are projected as a matter of perspective; a sensible impression on the conscience of time, that touches the tissue of reality with such an imperial pragmatism, that existence itself is comprehended as a lucid dream.
Despite the fact that the story is somewhat very simple – and is, to an extent, stricken with a modest degree of monotony –, the movie has a cohesive storyline, a decent and realistic premise and very decent interpretations. At one hour and twenty five minutes long, it is also very objective and direct to the point. The beauty of the cinematography makes the visual element definitely very elegant, and the intense, lucid, captivating and dense, yet discreet performance of Adam Thornes Ekeli as Aslak, definitely makes this film an extraordinary feature. You may not become extremely impressed by this movie, but certainly its poetic eloquence, its artistic imagery, its unorthodox premise and the profound philosophic virtuosity applied upon themes of loneliness, vagueness, imagination and a childish world of dreams conceived as a refugee against the pain of reality, certainly makes Skyggenes dal a marvelously sophisticated, gracious and poetic feature.