Not a great movie and not one for everyone, but a thought-provoking one with good performances by Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton in an interesting romantic pairing. If this were a book, it might be called a Cyberpunk novel, that is, a science fiction story set in a not so rosy future. This film reminds me most of Until The End Of The World, but the story has similarities to Minority Report, Gattaca, A.I., Johnny Mnemonic and others that you can think of where the future is represented as not so great. If you are a Sci-Fi reader, and you like the novels of Ursula K. LeGuin, you will see the similarity to her style of "soft" science fiction that examines the social implications of scientific advances.
This might be called a slow movie as it does not not have a lot of fast action, unlike Minority Report, though both share a good performance by Samantha Morton much as MR did, although in a starring role here. It has a leisurely feel to it, much more in common with Until The End Of The World, which it resembled so much in tone that it had me checking the writing and directing credits, though there was no commonality there. Director Michael Winterbottom is no Wim Wenders, but does a credible job of keeping the Frank Cottrell Boyce story on track.
What you will find is a love story between people who did not expect to find it, in circumstances that are unexpected. That's the twist. A bit of a stretch to find their actions believable? Since when does love follow a logical progression? This is a sequence of actions with unexpected actions and consequences, but to enjoy it you must not expect something that will race along at breakneck speed.
The use of words and phrases blended from languages whose populations are currently experiencing high growth rates are not unreal, but somewhat unexpected, so be prepared to hear some common Chinese and Spanish words and phrases being used from the beginning. It had me wishing there were subtitles for which I will look forward to a DVD rental of this title. A majority of English made it easy for a native speaker of that language and I also noted a little French. Conspicously absent were phrases from another language-speaking group whose large population is experiencing rapid growth, Hindi, from which we already use the common words pajamas and shampoo. I do look forward to the deleted scenes on the DVD to see if they could improve the overall work, much as I look forward to the Director's Cut of Until The End Of The World.
As I have recently been contemplating the future of the increasing "freedom" allowed by universal identity cards and credit card tracking, I find this a believable scenario, if a global government ever emerges. Judge for yourself, but I find this a future that could happen. The interesting issues addressed here are the benefits such measures would allow in exchange for personal freedoms. We have seen this in the U.S.A. with greater national security traded for personal freedoms, and as such this is a timely topic for its release in 2003.
Overall I found this an enjoyable movie, albeit not one with a traditional American happy ending. Some may object to a female protagonist having unconventional beauty (extremely short hair, no makeup) or a male protagonist making illogical choices (leaving a wife and child for a sudden love affair). Most unexpected is the type/extent of nudity that is ultimately shown in the final love/sex scene. As far as the action therein: remember, she asked for it (literally). However, the consequences suffered by the two protagonists in view of the knowledge of their actions may leave you with an old adage stuck in your mind at the end: Life isn't fair.
A mysterious love story with beautiful cinematography
A psychiatrist (Guy Pearce) attending his father's funeral in his hometown rescues a mysterious woman (Helena Bonham Carter), whose suicide attempt triggers amnesia and leads to their rediscovery of her identity. Her possible relationship to his past (told in flashbacks) forms the core of the story. Pearce's and Carter's strong performances are only a part of this subtle, yet visually gorgeous love story. Beautiful photography in a film so strongly visual and sparse of dialog gives a contemplative feeling of a style more European than Australian. Convincing performances by the young actors portraying young Sam (Lindley Joyner) and Silvy (Brooke Harman) are at least as good, if not better than those of Pearce and Carter. While not a film with everything explicitly explained, it is a beautiful story of young love, subsequent loss and rediscovery of self. Leisurely paced, subtle and full of symbolism, see it with friends or your love who can appreciate good films. My initial viewing of it as a rental DVD prompted a subsequent discussion between my wife and I greater than for any other movie we have seen in the last six months and a second viewing immediately afterwards that confirmed a decision to add it to our movie library.