Matt Smith and Eva Green star in this sci-fi drama about love and cloning. It’s been controversial and has prompted discussions about ethics and fears surrounding cloning.
Eva is really the star of the show as Rebecca, a woman who has returned to her childhood home, after emigrating to Tokyo, in search of her childhood sweetheart. Tommy (Matt Smith) has grown up to be an activist and a “simple cockroach farmer” or as Rebecca likes to call it, a biology student.
After reuniting, the pair become inseparable by all except from a tragic accident on the way to a demonstration against scientific experimentation and most notably, cloning. Rebecca’s grief of losing the love of her life so soon after being reunited with him leads her to decide to play surrogate mother to his cloned embryo. She raises him as her son but they can’t escape the chemistry they shared which leads to plenty of cringe worthy moment after moment.
Clone, as it’s known in the UK was previously called “Womb” for it’s international release. Presumably the title change was a marketing decision to capitalise on the sci-fi audience which is stereotypically made up of mostly men. Who knows if the decision maker behind this change thought a title relating to a woman’s reproductive parts might scare off prospective sci-fi viewers. The film was selected for the Sci-Fi London Film Festival but is more of an introspective of the human psyche, the relationship between mother and child and the difference between chemistry and love.
The film focuses more on the relationship between the two protagonists and leaves out anything sci-fi enthusiasts would really be excited about, there’s no test tubes or petri dishes and not a sniff of amniotic fluid. The sparse locations and sets mean that although the film is supposed to look “timeless”, the lack of even a hint of futuristic is a bit of a disappointment. The bleak landscape of Germany’s North Sea Coast, however was fully exploited in the beautiful cinematography.
The clones are of course treated with prejudice, not least by the two judgmental mothers who seem to be representing a vaguely token measure of diversity. The larger of the two mothers was genuinely made to say “would you like some pie” as her opening line. It’s exactly that sort of stereotyping that puts pressure on actresses to want to lose drastic amounts of weight in order to be taken seriously in their careers.
Hungarian director Benedek Fliegauf uses no background music at all and his no frills approach to the look of the film alongside the slow paced drama, long cuts and little dialogue make the whole thing feel like time’s stood still. The mission to achieve a timeless feeling has succeeded but is this something that’s going to be appreciated by sci-fi fans? The wardrobes were packed to the brim with fair-isle knits and sporty casualness and the fashion doesn’t change over the two decades that pass as Tommy 2.0 is growing up. Neither does the technology or Rebecca’s youthful looks.
There are other little holes that ruin the illusion of the story, for example, the evidence of Second Tommy’s origins are hidden in a drawer in the living room, I can’t imagine why Thomas Two wouldn’t have idly looked through cabinets like any normal person (probably) would.
Matt Smith is well known for his role as the current and eleventh Doctor and he brings his mannerisms and delivery to the role of Tommy and New Tommy but this is not something that is family friendly viewing. I’m not talking about the fact he drops all his clothes and runs into the sea like a mad man, the film is intentionally uncomfortable and controversial. Eva Green dominates the screen with her acting experience and intensity setting a shining example. Matt Smith’s performance of the two different Tommy’s is done without him even breaking a sweat and still managing to maintain his own character traits in his performance.
The extra features on the DVD consist of a trailer and a 21 minute making of video. The producers and director discuss the reasons for and difficulty or filming in Winter on the North Sea coast and everyone is quick to congratulate themselves on their brilliant premise.
Clone is beautifully shot, atmospherically relaxing and incredibly stressful in equal measure. The vast majority of it is impressively acted but I can’t help feeling that the film is missing a key ingredient that is needed for a sci-fi, and that’s a love of science fiction. It’s a story of romance which is metaphorically represented by a dead snail. Not one to go see with children, sons, mothers or mummy’s boys. Definately a film that will provoke discussion.
CLONE is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray from 7th May 2012