Sunday, July 30, 2017

In 'Anti Matter', a PhD Student Tackles a Groundbreaking Wormhole Experiment, a 'Memento'-Like Problem, and the Truth Behind Her Being

“A sci-fi noir take on Alice in Wonderland.”   Those are basically the words of the teaser for Anti Matter, and they sounded extremely intriguing to me.  However, having watched it, I didn’t get what’s Alice in Wonderland about it.  Fortunately, regardless of that, it’s terrific and ambitious.

Anti Matter (also known as Worm) is about an Oxford PhD student named Ana (Yaiza Figueroa) as she leads a team that makes a groundbreaking scientific discovery about wormholes.  After succeeding with animal testing, they have to bring it to the next level, and Ana draws the short straw to become the human test subject.  When she wakes up the next day, she notices that something is off.  She’s unable to retain any new memories, and her team is of no help at all.

The story then follows Ana as she tries to piece together what happened during the experiment and what is happening in her life while being hindered by her inability to remember.  The result is a mystery story that is as gripping and thoughtful as it is bemusing and disjointed.  But that is by design.  The confusion that the audience may feel from the narrative reflects Ana’s own in her bizarre situation.  And in the end, the gratifying big reveal brings sense to everything.
In addition, Ana is a well-realized protagonist, and thus, her arc feels rich and has emotional weight.  I felt Yaiza Figueroa wobbled a bit in her performance at times.  But she didn’t necessarily get distractingly off-putting.  Rather, she was generally effective in portraying the anguish of her character.

While Ana’s memory problems bring a Memento-like charm to the movie’s noir aspect, the scenario brought about by Ana’s wormhole experiments on the other hand touches some interesting themes of philosophy and quantum theory, such as the essence of our being, the relationship of matter and memories, the soul, and what makes us “real.”  Pretty thought-provoking.

Overall, Anti Matter is a smart, riveting, original science fiction thriller.  It has plenty of high ideas, and it makes them work within its story most of the time.  A must watch, certainly.

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