Sometimes in life you are asked to do things you really don’t want to do. Sometimes you don’t realise until it is too late. This is one of those times. I volunteered to watch and review a new British, sci-fi, psychological thriller. ‘This looks great!’ I said. ‘Tell me more’ I said. The trailer, as it turns out, was apparently very well cut, dare I say misleading? Yes it is British. Yes it is set in the not so distant future with some creepy new tech. But I am not thrilled. Once again, it seems people seem to have confused ‘psychological thriller’ with ‘hard to follow narrative’
Identicals has an interesting premise, which explains why Simon Pummell saw it through to release. A big brother-esque corporation ‘Brand New-U’ promises ready-made, better lives for its customers. Leave your crappy world behind and step into somebody else’s. But much like witness protection, this only works if everyone in the chain cooperates. Enter Slater (Lachlan Nieboer). After witnessing his girlfriend being kidnapped and replaced by an identical corpse, he agrees to give up the rights to his life and sign them over to Brand New U. Unwilling to let go of his past, however, he goes in search for Nadia in an attempt to reinstate the life they left behind. And Big Brother steps in to tie up the lose ends.
There are so many ways to take this story! I was thinking a cross between the mind fuck of Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind and the action from Taken. Something like ‘I will find you, and I will break the legally binding contract I made with your company’. But something falls short. Way short. Dwarf short.
Fearing I just wasn’t highbrow enough to ‘get it’, I took to the Internet to find out what others thought. But my brows are raised so it seems, as the general consensus is something went wrong with this film. From where I’m sitting (comfortably behind a computer screen, in my safe place) I can narrow it down to three things.
It lacks emotion. It lacks pace. It lacks a story.
The plot is based around a relationship that Slater is willing to risk his life for, yet there is little focus on what makes this couple so special. The only thing we have to go on is the birthday surprise she gives him at the beginning of the film, which is all very Instagram and is supposedly there to set the scene. Instead it just makes for some rather pretty shots, with no substance. This and other lacking scenes and dialogue result in the audience having no emotional investment in our protagonists, making it very difficult to invest in their story. It makes watching the film a chore.
Another reoccurring complaint is that it is very slow paced. Like, painfully so. I thought this was just my lack of attention span, but this is evidently not the case. Scenes are cut with unnecessary flashbacks and artistic shots. There also seems to be a delay in audio between characters, either resulting in them talking over each other or undramatic pauses. This adds up to an awkward desire for Identicals to hurry up and get to the point. Which isn’t what you want when you sit down to watch a film.
I’d be inclined to let them have another go and just consider this a messy, rough draft of a film. Identicals has promise, but the execution was way off this time.
IDENTICALS IS AVAILABLE NOW!