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What a Splice Little Family - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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June 4th, 2010


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11:15 pm - What a Splice Little Family
Contrary to the marketing, Splice is not a horror movie. It's a family film.

Well, not that kind of family film.

Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) are a scientist couple working on creating hybrid creatures for a pharmaceutical company to harvest vital money-making/life-saving proteins. They've spliced together several different animals' DNA to generate wholly new organisms. Then they secretly add in some human DNA. Enter a creature Elsa names Dren.

The bulk of the film focuses on Clive and Elsa essentially raising a child. The metaphor is obvious but not heavy-handed. Elsa forms an attachment to the creature, whereas Clive wants to destroy her. The ethics are hazy since, as Elsa says, she's not human. Not entirely. They represent two sides of the debate while still being characters. Although Clive gets really annoying after a while.

Dren looks pretty amazing; I knew she was partially or completely CGI at points, but I couldn't tell. And she's just human enough to be sympathetic, but she still moves in a jerky, alien manner. Mostly, she's pretty adorable.

For most of the film's running time, it is a very compelling science-fiction film about a couple struggling with not only an ethical dilemma but also a strange creature they don't quite understand. Then it gets REALLY FUCKED-UP. The trailer claims that the movie goes places that movies have not gone before, and, okay, I've certainly never seen that before. Or that. Or that. This movie? Is the go-there movie.

These twisted developments don't really seem to fit within the framework of the metaphor and seem to be more about the shock value then adding to the story. It reminded me of the sudden left turn in Sunshine.

I think the moral and ethical dilemmas could have been more nuanced and explored a bit more, given the subject matter, and I think that if the movie was going to Go There, it should have meant more, but I really liked it and found it interesting and fascinating to watch. Clive, Elsa, and Dren are a fucked-up little family unit, but babies are parasites anyway, so how different is it, really?
Current Mood: hothot
Current Music: Oleander - Are You There?
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(9 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:ide_cyan
Date:June 5th, 2010 07:40 am (UTC)
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At the Montréal premiere, Vincenzo Natali introduced the film by talking about how people like to show off their baby pictures, and this were his, and we were his captive audience.
[User Picture]
From:chrryblssmninja
Date:June 5th, 2010 09:27 am (UTC)
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thanks for the review. All I knew about this movie was that it was a weird little Canadian sci-fi movie until the huge promotion blitz started several weeks ago.
[User Picture]
From:miniglik
Date:June 5th, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC)
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I've heard about how it Goes There. I think I'm going to pass. The trailers do make it look visually interesting, at least.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 5th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
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It's very well made, and it does look great.
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From:ethanvahlere
Date:June 7th, 2010 03:31 am (UTC)
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This entire comment is a SPOILER ALERT, so be forewarned:

I have been pondering that infamous sex scene between Clive and Dren (I assume that's one of the scenes you mean by the movie Going There), and here's what I've come up with - when Clive and Elsa (by the way, I thought their names were a nice little homage to Bride of Frankenstein actors Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester) were having sex earlier on the couch, we saw Dren watching them, and from her point of view, I think she's curious, and he's available, plus it goes into the sick joke of either the father/daughter dynamic or the Pygmalion/Galatea myth (particularly since Dren is created partly from Elsa). As for Dren's rape of Elsa, they do set up for the changing of sex with Fred and Ginger, and you could see this as a child's ultimate acting out against the parent figure, I guess. Other than that, I've got nothing.

I do think ultimately it worked, though I agree Clive was too one-dimensional at times.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 7th, 2010 06:39 am (UTC)
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Clive really needed to have more than one note. It was annoying because he should and could have, but he wasn't written that way for some reason. He just kept making the same argument over and over despite many other arguments he could have made in light of new information.

I can see your rationales for the sex scenes. I have to believe there was a point.
[User Picture]
From:the_narration
Date:June 7th, 2010 04:29 am (UTC)
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I've seen, I think, one ad for this film, and I was curious what it was about. Now that I know, it sounds kind of interesting. I was lamenting last week (when some friends were visiting) the lack of anything in theaters worth seeing, so if I go see a movie in the near future it just might be this one.

Enter a creature Elsa names Dren.
"Dren" as in the Farscape alienese curse word? Or our mutual LJ/TWOP friend?

And she's just human enough to be sympathetic, but she still moves in a jerky, alien manner. Mostly, she's pretty adorable.
This reminds me of something I was hearing recently (re: the Na'vi in Avatar and how their appearance was basically designed to elicit maximum sympathy, with big eyes and cat-like features and sexy builds) about how it's easy (or even lazy) for a writer to get sympathy from the audience for something that looks cute and/or human-like, but takes actual effort from a writer for make something that isn't seem sympathetic. I tend to agree: anyone can make a robot that looks like a cute little girl or Summer Glau seem sympathetic, but not many can make a robot that looks like a spider the size of a car so loveable that people want a plushie of it.

For most of the film's running time, it is a very compelling science-fiction film about a couple struggling with not only an ethical dilemma but also a strange creature they don't quite understand.
And that, I totally want to see.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 7th, 2010 06:41 am (UTC)
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"Dren" as in the Farscape alienese curse word? Or our mutual LJ/TWOP friend?
As in "NERD" spelled backwards.

I tend to agree: anyone can make a robot that looks like a cute little girl or Summer Glau seem sympathetic, but not many can make a robot that looks like a spider the size of a car so loveable that people want a plushie of it.
Heh. That's a good point.

And that, I totally want to see.
Good!
[User Picture]
From:the_narration
Date:June 7th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
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As in "NERD" spelled backwards.
Oh! Yeah, that makes sense. Huh, now I wonder if Farscape came up with theirs the same way.

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