Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Writer: Brandon Cronenberg
Cast: Caleb Landry Jones, Sarah Gadon, Douglas Smith, Joe Pingue, Nicholas Campbell, Sheila McCarthy, Malcolm McDowell, Lara Jean Chorostecki
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Syd (Caleb Landry Jones) works for a clinic that specializes in infecting people with the diseases popular stars have, straight from their bodies. Syd himself is rather partial to model/actress Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon) and makes a bit of an extra profit by smuggling the diseases out of the clinic by infecting himself and selling them on the black market. When Hannah gets sick from a mysterious disease, it’s Syd who is sent to pick up the virus. Of course, he also injects himself, only to find that Hannah died from the disease – and nobody knows how to cure it.
Antiviral was a fascinating, stylish movie that explores its core concepts right down to the very last detail. I really don’t know what to be more excited about with this film – the content or the amazing performance by Caleb Landry Jones.
It’s rare that you get a movie that explores its concept as deeply as this one. Cronenberg takes a single idea – that of celebrity obsession going so far that people will take any physical connection to “their” stars they can – and makes it sprout several related and connected phenomena from it. There are the infections, there’s the genetically engineered star meat, there’s the gossip, there’s the AI etc etc etc.
And he’s not only full of incredibly weird ideas, but it all fits together and it all comes together in the end that takes it all to its logical conclusion. That’s how you do SciFi, and I’m getting goose bumps all over again just thinking about it.
But there’s more to the movie than just the concept. Caleb Landry Jones absolutely blew me away. His Syd is an asshole, but he’s also sympathetic. He’s such a conflicted character (kudos to Mr Cronenberg, again, for writing him that way) and Jones manages to give life to all of these aspects, despite Syd being actually sick throughout basically the entire film and with that sickness rather subdued.
And it’s all set in scene stylishly as well – there’s a whole damn lot of white, making you feel like that entire world is a clinic and we’re all just waiting our turn to be infected by something. Anything, really.
Summarizing: Cringeworthy and thoughtful – an excellent combination.