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dir-scr Juan Solanas
prd Claude Leger, Dimitri Rassam, Aton Soumache, Jonathan Vanger, Alexis Vonarb
with Jim Sturgess, Kirsten Dunst, Timothy Spall, Blu Mankuma, James Kidnie, Vlasta Vrana, Kate Trotter, Holly O'Brien, Elliott Larson, Maurane Arcand, Janine Theriault, Vincent Messina
release US 15.Mar.13, UK tbc
Dancing on the ceiling: Sturgess and Dunst
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
There's a lot of imagination on display in this mind-bending romantic-thriller, but it feels like an epic TV series that's been hacked down to 100 minutes, sacrificing most plot and character development in the process. The ideas and imagery are fascinating, but it's so fractured that it ultimately becomes annoying.
In a universe where two planets exert dual gravity against each other, a divided society has emerged with the civilised Up Above ruling the poor, exploited Down Below. Adam (Sturgess) is an inventor below who discovers his forbidden childhood Up Above love Eden (Dunst) working for TransWorld, the conglomerate whose monolithic headquarters spans the two worlds. Working in the centre of the building, he meets Bob (Spall), whose desk is on the ceiling above him. Both men help each other with secret projects. But Eden's memories of Adam have been erased by the authorities.
This film is packed with themes that are ripe for exploring, but filmmaker Solanas has so much information to convey that he never gets a chance. A ludicrously dense opening narration explains a series of random rules governing the physics of these planets. We're just expected to accept this even though it doesn't make sense and is used inconsistently.
Much of this information overload seems invented for story quirks that probably ended up on the cutting room floor, as scenes lurch into each other without logical connections. Adam's journeys Up Above, with the help of weights and an above-gravity suit, are fascinating even though they defy reason (wouldn't his blood rush to his head?). There's also the slight problem that Sturgess and Dunst aren't the warmest romantic leads imaginable, and Spall feels shackled by an American accent.
Even so, Solanas creates some amazing visuals, juxtaposing the two worlds together in ways that are constantly eye-popping even if they're inconsistent. Virtually every scene sparks some sort of niggle. I'm no scientist, but I know gravity doesn't work like this, and thinking about how these planets orbit and rotate their sun will hurt your head. So we take refuge in the story's emotional resonance, which becomes increasingly distracted by an underdeveloped thriller. It's still worth seeing, but it does make you hope that Solanas turns it into a series that has the space to come alive.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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