Daydream trippers. – Generation P: Edward Crabtree’s blog.
REVERSIBLE REALITY is an all too plausible glimpse of the future but offers no surprises – however, it is as timely as hell
The teaser for this `
fantasy thriller` enjoins us to picture a world where you can -among other things -`settle scores with a hated boss…all without consequences`. Indeed, in the dark but comic opening scene an overwrought employee does just that. The street below his office gets littered with the corpses of his repeatedly vanquished boss in his virtual fantasy.
Dmitry Konstantinov, the 57 year old director-cum-screen
writer responsible for Reversible Reality (Obratimaya Realnost)
has a history of involvement in crime thrillers. For all its being set a few
decades hence and tickling us with some wacky science, this is another one.
This 84 minute film got a 12+ certificate release this year,
two years after its completion. It incorporates noir elements alongside a
boardroom thriller within a science fiction framework. Some bankable actors
have added the icing on the cake by adding their names to it. Heartthrob Pavel
Chinarev provides the lead and the multi-award winning Timofey Tribuntsev (The
Island, 2006) makes a great theatrical bad guy. Meanwhile the alt-pop
outfit Mojento lay on some musical interludes.
The film is a glimpse of a hyperurbanised Russia of tomorrow.
Here Virtual Reality know-how has advanced to the degree where pundits can
immerse themselves in interactive parallel realities.
A Virtual Reality corporation called New Life has found itself riding on the crest of a wave of demand for its services. Citizens are content to vegetate in their free time, with what are called `Adventures`, tightrope walking across a gorge, scoring a goal for a major football team and so on instead of hiking and dating.
However, glitches are starting to appear and these sweet
dreams are starting to become more like nightmares as a cell opposed to virtual
living have found a way to hack into the system. Is the grand scheme of New
Life in jeopardy?
Enter Mihail (Chinarev). A specialist in online crimes, he gets tasked with infiltrating New Life as an employee and to seek and destroy the `antivirts`. Suspicion has fallen on one Vika, an employee of the company who commits such flagrant breaches of propriety as reading hard copy books on the metro (Zamyatin’s We, no less!)
Mikhail though is soon mesmerized by Vika’s gamine charms. With her as his new squaw he begins to uncover New Life corporation’s dastardly plot to extend its powers. (They are even confiscating people’s household pets the better to minimize any competition with their Adventures!) In the process the boss of the corporation is clubbed to death – or so it seems – and the fingers all point to Mikhail.
This multilayered whodunnit is rolled out with a fast pace and much talk. The septic New World was one that I haver seen countless times before – not least inBladerunner with its nocturnal cityscapes overseen by vast video displays. The technological marvels of it are kept to a wise minimum – although the downloading of Mikhail’s mind into the body of the boss – will play a part in what transpires.
Fifty costumes were designed for this show. Their sleek
quality adds to the general texture of the film as do the transparent computer
screens. The virtual reality appliances are represented by a bar of light
hovering before the punter’s eyes.
The actors seem to be doing their own thing, but in a good
way. Chinarev is a fisticuff trader whose bedroom features models of
motorbikes. Tribuntsev acts his socks off as the despotic CEO (as well as
others who come to inhabit his body). Vera Kolesnikova (100 Days of Freedom,
2018) is doll faced and impassive and it is easy to see how Mikhail could
become spellbound by her. We also get a cheering cameo from Vladimir Yumatov
who plays a seedy antediluvian sleuth given to announcing his presence with a
loud blowing of his nose.
Old World Futureworld.
Overall this conformist and automated anti-utopia took me back to Hollywood films from two decades back such as Equilibrium and Minority Report (both from 2002). I found this to be a bedrock of reassurance. The theme explored here is a very old one (one could go back to Huxley’s `feelies` in Brave New World from a century ago) and one far from reassuring, but the film engages with it in a style and format I could relate to with ease.
The appearance of Reversible Reality in the cinemas
seemed like an answer to a call. The news is full of stuff about how Mark
Zuckerberg’s virtual reality scheme – Meta – is faltering owing to over-investment
and people are losing their jobs because of it. Perhaps you and I are not so
willing to trade in our old real lives for new virtual ones. Perhaps, like
Mikhail and Vika at the close of the movie, we would rather be sitting on an
actual boat floating down an actual river on an actual summer’s evening. In an
interview for Kinoteatr.ru Chinarev commented:
After all, we look into the monitor screens more than we do each other’s eyes`
Postscript. I have received news that the release Hamlet Dulyan’s long awaited adaptation of Evgeny Zamyatin’s influential dystopia WE has yet again been cancelled. (It was supposed to reach cinemas on December 1st of this year following many delays). No reason has been forthcoming. This echoes the cancellattion of the release of the film EMPIRE V (From the Viktor Pelevin novel) last March.This represents a disturbing new trend in Post February 2022 Russian cultural life.
The lead image is from Mobilelegends.net