This is streaming on Netflix right now, or I doubt I’d ever have found it, and that would have been a great loss.
The story is set far in the future. Women, and girls, are increasingly infertile. But other than that one thing, honestly, the world isn’t all that different. Children feel compelled to achieve and be successful, and their parents feel the need to push them. There’s terrorism and a need to look attractive.
And, interestingly, because of this far future thing, a shrinking job field. Lots of people out of work. And some have decided it’s a better idea to send women workers back to the home then to put desperate men out on the streets. (That is almost the exact phrasing, I think.) To punctuate that idea, I think, there are background messages in the form of television news reports about child sex trafficking and the such.
The story itself is about a Mother, Gwen Koh (played by Jacqueline Kim), who is a spokesperson for a “beauty” company and product – better than plastic surgery! put your old mind in a young body! – and her Daughter, Jules (played by Samantha Kim).
Gwen’s company decides to fire her, telling her that she’s gotten too old, and Gwen comes against all that joblessness and prepare-your-children stuff above.
She can’t find anyone to hire her, and Jules needs both tuition money for her elite school and the camp/group that comes before and with the school that networks her with all the best families, which will almost ensure her success and protect her from the problems of the world around them. Like Gwen’s unemployment. The depression of the women in their building. The homelessness that’s sometime shown. Or the implied sexual exploitation.
In order to get the money, Gwen goes back to the company and tells them to put her through the procedure. That she will be their younger spokesperson. She and Jules together pick her new body. Discuss all the potential side effects. The transition is made. And then she comes home, and we’re a little over halfway through the film. Which I found interesting.
Other movies would have changed her sooner, for the scifi and suspense, or maybe later for the ending pay off, but this movie – though it is certainly a science fiction film – is largely about the relationship between this mother and daughter and the struggles they have together. So you see them struggle as a natural pair, and then as a changed pair.
Nothing. I watched it on my laptop, so it wouldn’t have been a big deal even if there were issues, but the fact is that there’s nothing here to cause any problems.
This is a beautiful movie. For all that it IS science fiction, and you have a unique and futuristic skyline and some fancy hover-police things, most of it is set in their home, in offices, or in a park where Gwen apparently likes to go. There’s a lot of street that is fairly calming.
A lot of attention was paid to color and costuming. Since they didn’t put this science fiction film in space and with laser guns and instead did an almost-the-same-just-a-little-different future, they altered it with a slightly blued tone for most scenes, except those in the park which were brighter. The costuming was great, almost some merging of “mod” fashion (like 1960’s mod) with a bit Victorian elegance and coloring in places. Hard to describe the feeling, exactly, but it all fit quite well.
Characters and Acting
Everyone did very well. Jacqeline Kim was great, of course. She’s not super famous, but I’ve always been rather fond of her. I was really impressed with Samantha Kim, as I generally am with child actors who aren’t terrible. I’ve no idea how old she is, I’m filing her somewhere between 12 and 14, but she does carry a big chunk of the second act, and she doesn’t let it fall.
Also involved in the movie are Jennefer Ehle, who plays Isa, Gwen’s boss. Isa is, of an age with Gwen. She also has daughters. She’s also beautiful, but not in her “prime”. It’s an interesting parallel. Ken Jeong plays the husband of Gwen’s cousin. He doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but coming to him as a Community fan, it was really interesting see him play someone so… not Chang. Finally, Freya Adams, who is Gwen’s second body. A difficult job here, because Jacqueline Kim has a very distict sort of posture and way of movement, but I think Freya did an excellent job at being the “universal” face and young body for Gwen.
Interesting to Note:
This whole movie had me thinking about Kurt Vonnegut. Sort of how Intersteller made me think of A Wrinkle in Time, Advantageious, with its obsessions over population, personal purpose, and mortality very well fell into the box I have in my brain for Vonnegut’s 2BR02B and The Big Trip Up Yonder. Adding in the issues of beauty and family, of the mother-daughter connection, and it had me thinking… yay! Feminist Vonnegut!
Yay! Feminist Vonnegut!
I really liked it. Something about the calm moments meeting the frantic. The beauty of the cinematography meeting the crumbling of emotional security of the characters. Perfect? No. There were a few places where it felt like it was dragging. I kinda wish they’d left out the stuff about the trafficking (did her dad do something to her? is that what they’re saying?!), but on the whole, I loved it.