When Rebecca (Eva Green) returns to her old home by the sea after 12 years in Japan, she looks up her childhood friend Tommy (Matt Smith); both are now grown up but the connection has remained. They barely have time to express their affection when Tommy is killed in a needless road accident. Devastated by her loss, she decides to give birth to his clone - not quite prepared for the complexity of the consequences.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Eva Green won the BAFTA Rising Star Award for her role as Vesper in Casino Royale; Matt Smith at 27 is the youngest actor to play The Doctor in the evergreen BBC series Dr Who; and Lesley Manville was nominated Best Supporting Actress at the BAFTAs for Mike Leigh's 2010 drama, Another Year. In all, a seriously acclaimed acting trio; but the two youngsters who play the characters as kids, Ruby O. Fee and Tristan Christopher, are just as effective as we are introduced to them at the start of the film.
Shot on the north east coast of Germany where the North Sea washes beaches wide and white, the film has a visual timelessness that adds to the other worldly mood. That, and the deliberate, languid pace, which teases us - but which also serves to highlight nuances and the cinematic language of filmmaker Benedek Fliegauf. But the language and the inhabitants - few that there are - are clearly English. The setting, then, is England. And an England where cloning seems to have become if not common, at least a practice - albeit one looked down upon. References by Rebecca's neighbours to it are incomplete but clear; clones are around. So much so, the kids have coined a label for them: copies.
Just as he moves through time slowly until Rebecca's decision to bear the clone of Tommy, so he moves quickly through the pregnancy and the first five years of the new Tommy's life. And then jumps us to Tommy at the same age as he was when he died.
The way this is handled seems intended for effect but it doesn't quite work. It comes shortly after a scene in which the 5 year old Tommy is wrestling with his mother in the sand, pinning her down and claiming that now he can do "anything he wants" to her and she submits. The oedipus reference is made obvious, but is then allowed to diffuse.
Fliegauf doesn't go down the sci-fi road to explore the cloning elements. Instead, he confronts Rebecca with the ultimate point of her decision. She has Tommy back, albeit 20 years later. Our response is complicated by the fact that she doesn't seem to have aged, and this simply muddies what the filmmaker wants to say.
Published July 28, 2011
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WOMB: DVD (M)
CAST: Eva Green, Matt Smith, Lesley Manville, Peter Wight, István Lénárt, Hannah Murray, Ruby O. Fee, Tristan Christopher, Jesse Hoffman, Natalia Tena, Ella Smith, Wunmi Mosako, Alexander Goeller, Adrian J. Wahlen, Gina Alice Stiebitz
PRODUCER: Gerhard Meixner, András Muhj, Roman Paul
DIRECTOR: Benedek Fliegauf
SCRIPT: Benedek Fliegauf
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Péter Szatmári
EDITOR: Xavier Box
MUSIC: Max Richter
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Erwin Prib
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 5.1
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Accent
DVD RELEASE: July 22, 2011
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.