Fixing on a great idea or something you haven’t seen before isn’t easy – watching any flick is that much better when you know the filmmakers have floored their premise.
Home-grown Aussie sci-fi OtherLife asks just what would you do if, having the opportunity to give away only a second in real time to a revolutionary new ‘drug’ of sorts, you could live untold moments or lives asunder, whether skiing down a mountain or recalling any number of fantasies.
Faced with the innumerable possibilities and the terrifying applications of her invention, programmer Ren Amari (Jessica De Gouw) agrees to a very unorthodox and typically morally ambiguous test of the treatment.
Kicking off in sections with some of the more fantastical examples of just how OtherLife works, the inescapable feeling at times that you’ve been transported into a keenly crafted sales pitch from the film’s most driven characters, over all too quickly, boundlessly exudes the jarring disorientation and sense of shock central to so much of the film’s appeal. Too peaking with some of OtherLife’s intensive, translucent visuals as the substance is allowed to pass through each subject’s eye, the effect nicely transitions the viewer to some of the concept’s most thrilling potentials, in which, inevitably, there are striking complications.
The set design in one notable instance contributing to the other-worldly feeling that permeates OtherLife, the encompassing story arcs and many frightening implications of the premise are often teased out fleetingly and with limited elaboration, the engaging idea underpinning it all not undeserving of greater introspection in a lengthier feature or even follow-up.
Reminiscent in not-insignificant stretches of classics including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Total Recall and even the first Matrix film, OtherLife nevertheless manages to carve out a space of its own, propelled by a winner of a concept that in execution aptly brought so many of its searing moral enigmas to the fore.
OtherLife screens at the Sydney Film Festival