CAPSULE: A woman is given the opportunity to have her personality and mind downloaded to a younger body in order to save her career and her prodigy daughter's entire future. Director and co-writer Jennifer Phang gives us a story set in a very believable future by extending out numerous current societal trends. There are few special effects but very nice production design by Dara Wishingrad. A minimal budget is required to make this into a very strong science fiction film. It is reminiscent of a similar coup by the film GATTACA. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
A minor spoiler follows the main body of the review.
In 1997, Andrew Niccol wrote and directed GATTACA. It was a science fiction film with a very limited special effects budget, but it had developed characters who were fleshed out and it had ideas. Almost the same thing could be said of ADVANTAGEOUS, co- written and directed by Jennifer Phang, a film that is very much the GATTACA of the 2010s.
The story takes place in 2041. The world is recognizably our world, just a generation or two in the future. In this world technology has eliminated most jobs and created massive unemployment. Those who are employed by the major corporations can live well, but that is s small minority. That situation is doubly true for women. With employers able to hire whomever they want without much resistance from the law, corporations have very few positions for women. Young girls who do not go to the handful of the finest schools can expect little from life.
Gwen, played by Jacqueline Kim, initially makes a nice living as the public face of a bio-tech company. Her daughter Jules (Samantha Kim) is highly talented and clearly has a rewarding life ahead of her. Gwen's company's current big project is developing a process for downloading human minds and personalities from their current bodies to newer and younger bodies. Gwen's supervision decides that the company wants a younger face to represent the corporation. Gwen is to be replaced. But losing her job will have profound effects on her financial situation. She will be unable to send her daughter to the school she wants. This is tantamount to condemning Gwen's daughter Jules to a pointless unrewarding life. Reluctantly Gwen considers having her own mind poured into a newer younger body as an alternative to having her career destroyed.
ADVANTAGEOUS is a science fiction film with a much higher budget for art direction than it has for special effects. That proves to be a good choice and sets this film apart. Little ideas are dropped into the script without much fanfare. Here you hear that a group of people are going "tech-free." There are terrorist explosions in New York City and bystanders barely even look up. Large flying machines patrol the skies at night. The film is an expansion of an episode of the "Futurestates" television series made for ITVS.
Much of the writing is good, but there is one stylistic flaw. The dialog is very mannered with long pauses between lines where facial expressions are intended to do the talking. This does not add a lot to the drama, but it does make the viewer impatient. I admit that early in this film I was considering giving up on it because of the stylized diction. But this is a film worth giving a little latitude. I rate it a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.
Minor spoiler... Minor spoiler... Minor spoiler... Minor spoiler... Curiously this film has a theme that was previously explored in a very different film. In Hammer Films' FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED there is a similar concept that close family members will not be able to adapt to having a loved one in a different body.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3090670/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/advantageous/
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2015 Mark R. Leeper