Realive aka Proyecto Lázaro (2016)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Realive</strong> aka <strong class="MovieTitle">Proyecto Lázaro</strong> (2016)

(On Cable TV, December 2018) Speaking as a long-time written science fiction fan, a really nice thing about the 2010s has been the expansion, globalization and democratization of filmed SF, as more filmmakers around the world are using a common understanding of the genre, cheap digital effects and accessible production means to create small-scale visions that go where Hollywood wouldn’t. With writer/director Mateo Gil’s Realive, this means a Spanish/Belgian production tackling universal ideas with a European slant, not necessarily settling for the same answers that what we’d see from other sources. The SF theme is familiar—a terminally ill man, choosing to be cryogenically preserved in the hope of a later cure. But of course, things aren’t so simple—being revived decades later leads to profound side effects, and there’s no guarantee that a man out of time would be able to cope with a future where he has to relearn everything. And that’s not mentioning the big question lurking behind it all: revival isn’t cheap, someone financed our protagonist’s return to life—and they expect a return on their investment. Going back and forth between a contemporary and a future timeline, Realive opposes the present and the future, as well as the choices the protagonist must make in leaving loved ones behind. The future, mostly taking place in a medical clinic, is cold and antiseptic: Yet revival is messy, complicated, prone to setbacks and uncomfortable choices. Our protagonist is not always of admirable fortitude, and the film does have an ironic surprise for him at the end. Tom Hughes is not bad in the lead, with Charlotte Le Bon providing some emotional support, and the eye-catching Oona Chaplin as the most vivid character in the film. While there isn’t much here that seasoned Science Fiction fans won’t have seen in other (usually written) forms, it’s good to see filmed SF rise to the level of maturity of prose SF and keep a stinger in reserve. While Realive is perhaps a bit too downbeat to please large audiences, it’s a mature kind of SF film, and one that should exist alongside happier, more superficial fare.

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