“In a Dream,” which pieces together everything from home movies to animation derived from Mr. Zagar’s sketches, is anything but hagiography. Though Jeremiah, 28, clearly adores his mother, Julia, the light he shines on his father can be harsh and unflattering. “My dad has a well of insanity that’s usually expressed in his work,” Jeremiah said recently over a plate of potato pancakes at a South Philadelphia delicatessen.
“There are people who see ‘In a Dream’ and think he’s a monster,” he added. “As much as I love him, it’s very easy to see him that way.”
For all his talk about the revelatory nature of existence, Isaiah is at bottom a solipsist for whom everyone else matters only as they affect him. During one pivotal scene of the film, as Jeremiah’s older brother, Ezekiel, struggles with a painkiller addiction, Isaiah says serenely, “No matter what happens to Zeke, he’s part of my art world.”
The only person able to distract Isaiah from himself is Julia, his muse, provider and wife of four decades. “He’s kind of a rare flower,” she says of him early in the movie. “A thistle maybe.”