You don’t need the bark-extracted, purgative hallucinogenic ayahuasca, imbibed by the tumult-ridden souls in “Icaros: A Vision,” in order to enter a haunting, soothing world of sounds, trippy images and mystical connections. This West meets way-out fable takes us into a shaman retreat in the Peruvian Amazon, where an American woman named Angelina (Ana Cecilia Stieglitz), diagnosed with life-threatening breast cancer, seeks the plant-based healing offered by the region’s natural elixirs. (As one is explained, “You can pass from dream to reality without leaving the dream.”)
As she slowly learns to overcome her fears and acclimate to the meditative austerity of remote hut life, she becomes friendly with the center’s young shaman Arturo (Arturo Izquierdo), a family man with a degenerative eye disease, and on his own health-afflicted journey. Directors Leonor Caraballo, who used her own experiences as source material (and who died before filming could be completed), and Matteo Norzi take a humbled, engaged view of these practices: They’re enlightened supporters, not culture tourists.
Their playful visuals — strikingly captured by cinematographer Ghasem Ebrahimian — and compassionate tone honor the traditions while acknowledging the ever-present threat of jungle-decimating industrialization (we see a dinghy with a planted tree puttering past a barge high and thick with logs).
The real surprise is that what’s most wonderfully, beautifully assured about “Icaros” are the psychedelic sequences, which combine unassuming, amusing CGI and enveloping aural tracks (incantations, jungle sounds) to hypnotic, revelatory effect, like a consciousness in the full flower of merging memory, pain and freedom. “Icaros” is a mini-epic of serene, intelligent mind-body wooziness.
‘Icaros: A Vision’
In English and Spanish with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood