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Review: 'Womb' Puts Love, Sex, Family & Cloning Into A Blender, Comes Out As A Sci-Fi Incest Romance

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist March 28, 2012 at 10:04AM

There's an air of finality to the entirety of "Womb," the new film from Benedek Fliegauf. Using minimal shooting locations, primarily a cloudy offseason beach, the picture might be following young Rebecca and Thomas as the last lovers at the end of the world. One could argue that's even the movie's intentions -- when there is nothing left to love, we'll invent, and re-invent, new people. And Thomas is about to be re-invented in an exceedingly peculiar manner.
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Womb

There's an air of finality to the entirety of "Womb," the new film from Benedek Fliegauf. Using minimal shooting locations, primarily a cloudy off-season beach, the picture might be following young Rebecca and Thomas as the last lovers at the end of the world. One could even argue that's the movie's intention -- when there is nothing left to love, we'll invent, and re-invent, new people. And Thomas is about to be re-invented in an exceedingly peculiar manner.

As children, the two meet off the coast and develop an immediate bond. Spending their days and nights together, they share everything in common, including, curiously, a bed and a bath. It's hard to see where one child begins and the other ends, so when Rebecca disappears with her father to Japan, it's like the severing of a limb for both children. Curiously, there's no mention of staying in touch through social media, furthering the idea that we're perilously close to the endtimes, if not so far in the distant future that the social media boom has somehow become passe again.

Womb

Years later, Rebecca returns to this tiny seaside hamlet in her mid-to-late twenties, eager to see Thomas, arriving unannounced, seemingly without luggage or a place to stay. Her ethereal reappearance startles Thomas, who completely forgets he's entertaining a lover. When his shock wears off, his first casual moment with her isn't a kiss or a seduction, or even a shared joke: he immediately disrobes without compunction, diving into the sea and flopping amongst the waves as she watches. Their near-psychic bond has resumed.

Thomas now works as an underground scientist and activist, disrupting major companies' arrangements while toying with the possibilities of human cloning. Before Rebecca can understand the depths of these studies, Thomas dies in a freak accident, leaving her awash in the film's light blues and dark grays. Science provides the solution for her: clone Thomas, and give birth to the results. In case you didn't get this, she is going to clone her dead lover and raise him like a son. Freud skeet skeeted.

Womb

"Womb" curiously plays like a companion piece to the recent documentary "The Ballad Of Genesis And Lady Jaye." That film told the story of two lovers who felt they were much more, and decided to buck the trend of conventional relationships by declaring themselves two separate pieces of a whole, circumventing their own assigned sexualities and readjusting their bodies through surgery to share similar features. Though "Womb" takes things in a scientific direction, it doesn't bring its characters with it, which is a disappointment.

In keeping with the film's somewhat morbid tone, Rebecca sulks through this film, and we never get a look into her intentions. She seems vexed when she realizes she's got a clone baby, eerily unprepared for the mammoth task of raising a child, particularly one with whom she used to share a bed. It's never clear how long she's meant to postpone telling the young boy about his origins either, especially when we learn that cloning is a popular, though still socially-unacceptable practice. Despite not disclosing the nature of her son's birth, she finds herself faking bigotry towards a local girl who is openly a product of incestual cloning, forcing her to draw a line between what she would and wouldn't consider acceptable.

"Womb" eventually takes its premise into a chilly sexual dimension, as Thomas grows up to very closely resemble Rebecca's former lover, as she ages. The film's sly casting of dreamy Eva Green as Rebecca and handsome, plucky Matt Smith as Thomas adds a conventionally attractive sexual dimension to the proceedings, skewing the audience's expectations. It's an intriguing sexual study geared towards love and companionship, but it can only feel academic as long as Rebecca, who ages gracefully into her later years, remains inherently unknowable. [B-]

This article is related to: Eva Green, Matt Smith, Review


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