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dir-scr Omer Fast
prd Natasha Dack, Malte Grunert
with Tom Sturridge, Cush Jumbo, Arsher Ali, Ed Speleers, Nicholas Farrell, Danny Webb, Bill Thomas, Shaun Prendergast, Sasha Frost, Laurence Spellman, Benjamin Davies, Lanre Malaolu
release UK 24.Jun.16
15/UK Soda 1h37
Who am I: Sturridge
BERLIN FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With a compelling central mystery and a bold visual style, this British thriller plays with issues of identity and memory. Writer-director Omer Fast taunts the audience all the way through this surreal, intriguing odyssey, dazzling with clever touches and visual inventiveness. But the tantalising elusiveness that draws us in early on never quite pays off in the end.
City worker Tom (Sturridge) is in a London street when something falls from the sky, injuring him severely. Waking up from a coma, he goes through months of rehab before setting out to rebuild his life. But his memories are a blur, so when his lawyer (Farrell) reaches a lucrative out-of-court settlement for his injuries, Tom launches a big-scale project to reconstruct his life with the help of fixer Naz (Ali). As this project becomes all-encompassing, Tom begins to suspect that his girlfriend (Jumbo) and best pal (Speleers) aren't telling him the whole truth.
The idea of a guy trying to rebuild his own missing memory is very clever, and Fast gleefully taunts the audience with suggestions, implications and red herrings as Tom struggles to make sense of what has happened to him. He wants to trust the people around him, but finds that he can't. So he continues on blind impulse. Although this means that the plot develops quite a few gaping holes as it reveals its secrets, leaving the viewer unable to trust the filmmaker to provide real answers.
Sturridge is compelling at the centre, a nice guy who draws sympathy as he strains to unlock the secrets hidden deep within his own mind. He beautifully plays the character's obsession as something that can't be resisted, which means that as the story progresses Tom becomes colder and icier, sacrificing his humanity as he attempts to find it. This is nicely reflected in the supporting performances, even though the side roles stubbornly refuse to come into focus, for obvious reasons.
Sturridge also fits nicely into the film's slick, surreal, almost sci-fi visual sensibility, which makes it very easy to watch. But Fast leaves any proper thematic subtext entirely to the audience. The story plays with huge moral issues, and there are situations that are shocking, violent and provocative, but there's also a naggingly superficial tone to it all. We wait patiently for the themes to resolve themselves as the hard-hitting climactic finale approaches, but like Tom we struggle to make sense of the stylish murkiness.
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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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