A woman's grief and her access to psychotropics are the supposed catalysts in the pseudo-Bergmanesque "Woodshock." Sibling directors Kate and Laura Mulleavy's Rodarte brand made them overnight couture stars; with their filmmaking debut, lightning has not struck twice.
Kirsten Dunst, who has played despondent dreamers to far greater effect in "The Virgin Suicides" and "Melancholia," is the vessel, if not quite the anchor, for the directors' broody noodling. As the increasingly withdrawn and deranged Theresa, struggling to get over the death of her mother, she appears in every scene of the determinedly downbeat Humboldt County story. Along with the well-established shorthand of mirror gazing to signal intense introspection, Theresa engages in ponderous silences, experiences bloody visions and sometimes levitates amid the California redwoods.
She's a conflicted angel of death: Via cannabis buds spiked with a mysterious fluid, she and her marijuana dispensary boss, Keith (Pilou Asbaek), offer customers in dire need the chance to check out of their lives on a chemically amplified high. A dosage gone wrong intensifies the dark bond between Theresa and Keith and widens the yawning gulf of nada between her and her awful boyfriend (Joe Cole), whose job at a lumber mill — captured in the film's least affected imagery — involves cutting down old-growth forest.
With its gauzily surreal touches, "Woodshock" reflects the Mulleavys' romantic flair for texture and embellishment. But as Theresa's guilt and self-medication mount, along with the film's profoundly muddled ideas about assisted suicide, the curated trance grows mind-numbing. It's a death trip with pretty lingerie.
Rating: R, for drug use, language and a scene of violence
Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Playing: ArcLight Hollywood