25 July 2016 | gavin6942
Stop Drilling, You've Hit Oil!
Marc Jarvis (Tom Hughes) is diagnosed with terminal cancer and is given one year left to live. Unable to accept his own end, he decides to freeze his body. Sixty years later, in the year 2084, he becomes the first man to be revived in history. It is then he discovers that the love of his life, Naomi (Oona Chaplin), has accompanied him this entire time in a way that he had never expected.
Writer-director Mateo Gil had already made a name for himself as the writer of such films as "The Sea Inside" (2004) and "Open Your Eyes" (1997). Anyone who has not seen these should, and don't just see the American remake of "Open Your Eyes". Sure, "Vanilla Sky" has its moments, but it's a mess compared to its Spanish original. Gil is now making his mark as director with "Realive", which hits all the right notes.
First of all, the casting is flawless. Oona Chaplin (GAME OF THRONES) plays a complicated love interest, whose ambivalence towards Marc will potentially divide audiences. Her future counterpart is Charlotte LeBon (THE WALK), who has a striking look and plays her role in such a way that you have to wonder if she represents all women of the future – in some ways, they seem to have regressed back to male subservience (though the film does not explore this much). Of course, Tom Hughes (ABOUT TIME) carries the film and goes through a variety of emotions, not to mention physical appearances. Tom, keep your cell phone handy, because your agent is about to be bombarded with offers.
Gil, wearing his writing hat, has crafted a serious piece of science fiction. The best science fiction is grounded in reality, and yet pushes the limits in such a way to challenge us intellectually and ethically. This script hits those marks, and will leave thoughtful audiences talking long after the credits roll. This is the sort of film that finds its way into medical ethics classrooms.
There are a few light touches, with the names "Victor" and "West" being clear homages to "Frankenstein" and "Re-Animator". The idea of flying cars is mentioned, and cleverly dismissed – Gil is wise enough to project that the future has medical advances, but not the sort of world we see in "Blade Runner", "The Fifth Element" or "The Jetsons". One only has to look at the difference between 1916 and 2016 to realize that changes will happen, but certainly not in such a drastic shift as some writers imagine.
The range of issues mentioned is vast. Assuming we could re-animate a frozen corpse (which seems plausible), what does this mean for the human soul? If we accept that Heaven or Hell exist, does bringing a body back to life mean that the soul is pulled from a burning inferno and re-interred to a body? Maybe the body would no longer have a soul? Or, as "Realive" suggests, the notions of an afterlife are false
which only opens up a whole other can of worms about religion and morality.
And what of medical ethics? The appeal to be frozen and brought back is clear, and some of us do yearn for a world where we can be immortal. As the doctor of the film wittily says, "Immortality is only a matter of time." But should we allow people to live forever? What of overpopulation? And what lengths need to be gone through in order to bring someone back from the dead (or from being frozen)? One disturbing scene (which parallels a scene in Alex Garland's "Ex Machina") makes us realize that science is not a miracle, but a series of trial and error – and the errors can get messy.
Some parts of the film are stronger than others. The idea of a "mind writer" that can record memories seemed far-fetched and unnecessary. The misuse of such a device (not explored here) could be devastating. But overall, this is a strong science fiction film, perhaps one of the best of the decade, and quite possibly Gil's best work yet. "Realive" premiered at the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival and should be released to a wider audience soon.