Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Realive: Disney’s Dream Come True

Who knew the future would be so uncertain? It turns out to be quite different, yet maddeningly the same. Go figure. This is especially frustrating for Marc Jarvis, because he will have to live in it. The first cryogenically frozen terminally ill patient to be successfully revived and cured experiences buyer’s remorse in Mateo Gil’s Realive (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

It was tragic bad timing for Jarvis to get a one-year cancer diagnosis. His hipster advertising agency was thriving and he was finally settling into a healthy long-term relationship with Naomi, his former girlfriend several times over. She quits her job to make the most of what time they have left, but Jarvis has a different idea. He will technically kill himself before the disease can ravage his body, so he can be frozen and presumably revived later. Apparently, those bucket list items will have to wait—sixty years to be exact.

That is how long it takes for Jarvis to be defrosted—and boy is he surprised. Thanks to his precautions, he was a perfect specimen for the restoration process. However, instead of elation, Jarvis falls into a deep depression. Even Elizabeth, the pretty RN assigned to monitor his recover and “encourage” him in ways acceptable in the swinging 2080s, can’t make him forget about Naomi. To further boost his angst, Jarvis eventually learns Naomi also had herself deep-frozen, but not in as pristine condition, making her an unlikely contender for revival anytime soon.

There are some powerful moments in Realive that bear comparison to Mark Slutsky’s provocative short film Decelerators. Unfortunately, there is just no getting around the weakness of Tom Hughes as a lead (de ja vu, anyone?). Instead of brooding darkly, he just seems to lay about in a funk. It is impossible to believe Naomi (played by Oona Chaplin, Charlie's granddaughter) and Elizabeth (played by Charlotte Le Bon) could both be so concerned about his cold porridge personality.

Poor Chaplin is stuck with an under-cooked character, but she still manages to wring some poignancy out of the extreme situation she faces. Always reliable, Le Bon is actually the one who really sells the big emotional payoff, which must have been quite a challenge playing opposite Jarvis’s bald head and lifeless eyes.

At least Gil marshals his resources quite effectively. He and his design team realized an evocatively ambiguous vision of the future. It is a good-looking film, but Hughes still can’t carry it. That is a crying shame, because even though Gil’s script addresses some heady speculative themes, the relationship between Jarvis and Naomi is really what is supposed to drive it. Another film to stream later on Netflix or Shudder, Realive opens this Friday (9/29) in New York, at the Cinema Village.