Monday, July 06, 2015

'Advantageous' Could Be the Most Thought-Provoking Movie of 2015

Advantageous was originally a 2013 short film that has been expanded into this full-length feature film.  This movie premiered in Sundance earlier this 2015, and is currently being distributed by Netflix.  It is probably the most thought-provoking science fiction movie I’ve seen this year so far.  And considering the fact that I’ve already seen Ex Machina, that’s saying something.

The film’s setting is on a near-future that is seemingly utopian in nature at first glance.  But as the story progresses, we see that this world – despite its advancements – is closer to a dystopia than a utopia.  Opportunities are given to those that know the right people rather than what one is capable of.  Employment is rampant, and education is extremely expensive.  Women – regardless of competence and intelligence – struggle the most in getting and keeping careers (since the popular thought is it’s preferable to keep women away from the job-market than “putting millions of desperate men on the streets”).  Terrorist bombings are occasionally happening.  And, as expected, the elite class is shielded from economic difficulties and holds an advantage in accessing privileges.

The story focuses on the lives of Gwen and her daughter, Jules.  As a single parent, Gwen works hard in order to keep Jules well-educated and for her to develop plenty of skills and talents so that she’ll be prepared for the tough future ahead of her.  Thus, Jules grew up to be a brilliant and well-rounded 13-year-old.  However, Jules was not able to qualify for a scholarship for the next stage of her education, for this world has plenty of other brilliant and well-rounded kids (and, again, capability isn’t enough; one must also have connections) and slots are limited.  The only option is to send Jules to a private school, which Gwen can’t afford (again, as mentioned before, education is very expensive).  And to make matters worse, Gwen is laid off from her job.  So with time running out, driven with love and desperation, Gwen has to make a difficult choice in order to give her daughter a chance (just that: a chance!) of securing her future.

I haven’t seen the original short, so I can’t correctly tell if it’s better off as that, or making it into a full-length film indeed improved it.  But based on the lagging feeling I got from watching the full-length film – I felt that the full-length film has some needless padding in its storytelling – I think that the same impact could had been provided when it was just a short.

I really can’t blame if people will find this movie boring since the movie did nearly lose me at one point.  Again, there were stretches of this movie which I felt dragged a bit.  But after I got through its first act – once the characters grew on me, and the slow-paced world-building did its work of providing a general idea on how this world works – I was fully invested on the movie.

The science fiction conveniences used in this story aren’t new.  Any intention of a plot twist didn’t have a tinge of unpredictability and mindblowingness in it.  But I still think that it’s a terrific, well-told, and thought-provoking science fiction tale.  The great acting (comedian Ken Jeong especially surprised me with a genuinely heartfelt performance) and well-executed drama definitely helped in keeping me engrossed, but what appealed to me most was the smart integration to the storytelling of the important themes and message it was trying to deliver.  It really made me reflect.

I acknowledge that Advantageous is the kind of movie that not everyone will enjoy.  And there are flaws that can be found if one will consciously nitpick.  That said, I think more people should watch it – or, at least, just try watching it.  If you still find it uninteresting at its 1/3 mark, then stop.  But there’s this chance you would eventually be intrigued at that point, continue watching, and conclude that it was a rewarding movie… like I did.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found it pretentious and farfetched and the performances robot like