Monday, January 14, 2013

Womb (Clone) - QC Review

Directed by: Benedict Fliegauf
Starring:  Eva Green and Matt Smith
Rated: R  
Runtime: 1 hour 51 minutes  
Release Date: March 30, 2012

What a disturbing thought this film conjures up in your mind. Using the ill-fated love between a young girl named Rebecca and a young boy named Thomas (played as adults by Eva Green and Matt Smith), the film shows us the deepest, darkest and most perverse side of humanity. Both children were separated at an early age when Rebecca was forced to move over seas leaving Thomas, her soul mate, behind. A number of years later and all grown up, Rebecca comes home to find Thomas still living in the same town and essentially awaiting her return. The two instantly pick up where they left off and just as they are about to embark on a life journey together, Thomas is struck down by a car and killed instantly. Alone and confused, Rebecca makes a drastic decision to get her one true love back by using the miracle of cloning.

This isn't so much a love story as it is a horror story, but the horror isn't about blood and guts or scary creatures that lurk in the shadows, it's about how we as human beings can take any miracle, either by God or Science, and pervert in a way that is unspeakable. This perversion comes in the shape of how the clones in this undisclosed future world are created. In order to create a full, living, breathing human clone it must be carried to term in a woman's womb. So in order for Rebecca to clone her lover she must conceive him, give birth to him, care and nurture him like her own son and raise him to be a man in the same way any mother does for their child. The darker sides of this ideology comes along when we see how Rebecca looks at her son, her former lover, in a way that isn't motherly but almost sexual. It is never mentioned or even acted upon, but it is there constantly reminding us that their life together as mother and son is unnatural. There is a longing in her eyes that can only be satiated one way, and that is where the horror of this story lies.

The subtext is right there in plain sight, the film deals with the idea of incest but also many other taboos in the process that don't, but could, exist. Is it incest if the child you gave birth to has no real DNA of your own? Then there is the question of how Rebecca acts when her child grows into the age where she first fell in love him at 10 years old. Without a doubt the most disturbing moments in the film lie during this portion where we see Rebecca and her son/lover Thomas as a child and how they interact with each other. When she reads him a bedtime story to put him to sleep there isn't inherently wrong with how they are with each other, but you know Rebecca is caring for him more in the hopes of getting her lover back than raising a son and there is no questioning how disconcerting that makes one feel.

There is no doubt that the questions the film raises are intriguing and those are what generates the films more dramatic and disturbing moments. Only when Rebecca enrolls Thomas into school do we learn of how what she did isn't an isolated incident. The terminology for her actions is referred to as "Artificial Incest" and is brought into the limelight when it is discovered a little girl going to the same school has been outcast for being a clone. What's worst is who she is a clone of and who it is that gave birth to her. We first meet the little girl and she seems harmless enough and undeserving of the ridicule given by the other children, but when you learn that she is a clone of her mother's mother (meaning the daughter gave birth to her own mother's clone) it takes on a whole new level of perversion than even what Rebecca did.

This is not an easy film to digest but it is an experience like no other. You will find yourself sickened by some of the ideas it brings up that could happen one day and also oddly intrigued by its many questions (even more so by its answers to those questions). "Womb" (aka "Clone"), is a fantastic cinematic achievement if for nothing more than how it effects the viewer in equally positive and negative ways. Cloning has been a heated argument in the scientific community for years now and the added conceit that one must give birth to the clone is a troubling but fascinating idea. One that director Benedict Fliegauf uses to great and horrifying effect. There is no real way to determine if it is for you, but regardless of your feelings towards it and its controversial themes and uncomfortable situations that arise from said themes, there is no doubt it will stick with you long after it is over.





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