Jan 18, 2008

Park City Dispatch #1 - "Reversion"

The festivals with dance at the end of their monikers got underway yesterday, with Mr. Redford trading in 2007's theme, "Focus on Film", with the even more oblique, "Film Takes Place". While the glitter of opening night at the Eccles was all about playwright turned film director Martin McDounough's "In Bruges", friday morning the Egyptian Theater, Sundance's signature screening palace, played host to Mia Trachinger's weird, beguiling new take on the low-fi, sci-fi dystopia genre, "Reversion". In front of a less than sell out crowd for a 9:15am screening, Trachinger, whose "Bunny" was a major success of the festival circuit a few years ago, unspooled her new pic, shot in low end HD, but with ideas and concepts that more than make up for its pedestrian aesthetics. Like "Alphaville" or "Code 46", the film visits a future that resembles the present, with ordinary spaces (in this case, west Los Angeles) dominated by bizarre social pathologies, technological dislocation, the erosion of conventional morality, and in the case Trachinger's fascinating if not entirely satisfying film, a sub caste of outsiders afflicted with a strange, debilitating ability to see into their own futures. The picture avoids exposition altogether, throwing us right into the chaos of Eva's world, who, as embodied by the terrific newcomer Leslie Silva, spends her time stealing cars, guns and food when she isn't haunted by visions of a murder she can't help but commit. That the future victim is her boyfriend, also afflicted with the prophetic syndrome, sustains the narrative with some tension, even if Trachinger seems more interested in the philosophical and ideological issues raised by her narrative than with the people who inhabit it.

Although it doesn't engage on an emotional level, "Reversion" presents an allegory for the inability of post-modern Americans to prevent themselves from contributing to their own demise. Deluged with information about the myriad ways in which we, in collusion with our gutless leaders in Washington, are polluting the Earth, destroying our international reputation with needless wars and are increasingly susceptible to disease, famine and terror, most Americans (and perhaps most humans) find themselves resigned to an increasingly bleak outlook on the future of the planet. Like "Children of Men" or "Time of the Wolf", albeit on a much smaller scale, "Reversion" shows us what happens in a world devoid of hope, where men find themselves reverting to their most animalistic, ungovernable impulses even as consciousness. Hopefully a brave distributor will be willing to take on this difficult but rewarding movie.