Saturday, July 4, 2015

Jacqueline Kim and Advantageous (a film review)

Advantageous, a sci-fi drama directed by Jennifer Phang and starring Jacqueline Kim, premiered at the Sundance film festival in January, 2015 and just released exclusively through Netflix.

The plot follows Kim, who plays Gwen, a single mother of a child prodigy daughter named Jules (maturely portrayed by Samantha Kim), through a tangled web of fiber optic emotion that visually highlights Phang's futuristic setting in a society where women are cast aside easily once the bloom of youth fades. In spite of all the technological advances this Brave New World holds, only a self sacrificing love that sustains yet pains Gwen can drive her to offer herself as a trial subject for risky 'consciousness transfer' into a younger woman's body so she can keep her advantageous marketing job.

James Urbaniak also delivers as Fisher, an executive who befriends her after she is fired for being too old. Ironically, the company will rehire her if she undergoes the complex and uncertain procedure so that Jules can continue going to the best schools in a society where women must become less than human in order to survive economically.

What's most captivating about the film is Phang's precise use of time tested surrealistic camera shots that convey a lack of connectivity between inner emotions and outer realities that are painful but necessary-nervous hand shots, semi-intrusive merge scenes that show how daily life is pushed to the limits by invasive technology--and more.

There's a certain Blade Runner surreality to many of the scenes that allude to a world that is near yet far to human sensibilities, a disconnect if you will. But the real connectivity issue that imbues the entire screen from start to finish is a mother's unselfish and tortured love for her daughter and this is why Advantageous trumps the difficult hand of a science fiction movie wanting to toss- in- its- cards and surrender to special effects and storyline. Not many films in the genre are able to do this, sacrificing character emotional development for idea. Phang and Kim reach for the stars and show us what extremes a mother will go through for her child's sake, even if it means an excruciating out of body experience.

There is no reality outside of pain because pain seeks and creates its own reality--Roberto BolaƱo

Samantha Kim