Director: Bernard Rose
Writer: Bernard Rose
Based on: Mary Shelley‘s novel
Cast: Xavier Samuel, Carrie-Anne Moss, Danny Huston, Tony Todd
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 24.9.2015
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard.]
Viktor (Danny Huston) and Elizabeth (Carrie-Anne Moss) have been working on artificial life for a while and they finally seem to have made it: their specimen (Xavier Samuel) fulfills all expectations, but it is not quite stable yet. As tumors start to take it over, Viktor and Elizabeth decide to put it down. But it manages to escape its own death sentence. Unleashed in the world far from laboratories, it starts looking for a place where it can stay and fit in.
Frankenstein is a very clever new take on a story that sometimes feels done to death. But I’m not sure whether it doesn’t ultimately undermine its own attempts as well. Be that as it may, it is certainly worth checking out.
Rose has modernized the story quite a bit. For example, our understanding of science/the scientific process has changed or is changing, so “the monster”, or Adam as he is later called, is not the product of a single renegade scientist, he was made by a team in a long process with many attempts of which he is but one. (Awesomely enough it turns out that he was 3D-printed.) Furthermore Rose also incorporates current political problems – from homelessness to police brutality, he connects the “lost souls”, the people somehow forgotten and marginalized by society and shows their systematic ostracization.
That modern stance is juxtaposed with Adam’s inner voice that Rose pulled directly from the novel. While Adam remains speechless on the exterior for a surprisingly long time, Shelley’s language shows that not being able to talk doesn’t mean not being able to think or not having a rich interior life.
Another interesting point was the moment when Eddie (the wonderful Tony Todd) decides that Adam has to lose his virginity, despite the fact that Adam doesn’t show any desire for sex. So he arranges a sex worker for him. But it is then revealed that Adam does not have sex organs. For me, that moment betrays society’s heteronormativity: Adam doesn’t show any sexual desire, nor does he show any interest in women, but for Eddie it is clear that he must feel those things, that he must want and need to sleep with women and that he is doing him a favor if he arranges it.
Nevertheless I’m not sure whether the film is as monster-friendly as it appears at first glance. Yes, we always see the world from Adam’s perspective and it becomes clear that he is a child, a person treated as an object by practically everybody around him. That is bound to fuck with somebody. But he is indiscriminately (and very graphically) brutal to friend and foe and in the end everybody who has ever showed him kindness dies as much as those that might be said to deserve it for mistreating him. That doesn’t help to see the victim in him one is supposed to empathize with. And honestly, I got a little annoyed with his mummy issues that replace the daddy issues in the film.
Nevertheless Frankenstein is a commendable attempt to get something new and worthwhile from the story – and it most instances it achieves just that.