Thursday, 11 July 2013

Womb - Film Review

Starring: Eva Green, Matt Smith, Hannah Murray and Lesley Manville

womb film, womb film review, eva green, matt smith
 A holiday romance between two youngsters is rekindled in early adulthood when Rebecca (Eva Green) returns to the shoreline home of her late grandfather. Reunited with Tommy (Matt Smith), the couple re-embark on their relationship only for time together to be cut short after Tommy's sudden demise. Grief stricken for a life never fully realised together, Rebecca makes the controversial decision to give birth to and raise Tommy's clone. The decision proves to have destructive ramifications for future relationships, which suffer for their entrenchment with the past.
I couldn't help but draw comparisons between 'Womb' and Mark Romanek's 'Never Let Me Go.' Both tackle the theme of mortality and the sanctity of life. Though where 'Never Let Me Go' prompts us to grapple with the idea of cloning for the greater good (i.e. developing cures for diseases), 'Womb' presents us with an altogether more selfish reason - to simply bring back the dearly departed. Here, there are no potential health benefits for the future, nor are there any ostensible societal improvements.
Indeed 'Womb' paints an uncomfortable vignette, with the clones addressed disdainfully as 'copies'. Attached with an almost racially derivative stigma, it's clear the process isn't wholly accepted. 'Womb' most aptly puts this across through the excited curiosity of a young boy, who debates as to whether a recently encountered  'copy' smelt like window cleaner. Irony would have it that said boy with his benign prejudice is in fact Tommy 2.0.

womb film, womb film review, eva green
The futility of death is made clear in 'Womb' - Tommy's death is an ultimately unnecessary one. A keen environmental activist on the cusp of his most ambitious endeavour renders his life cut short unfair. So to bring him back and to start his life from the beginning is all the more controversial when rationalised as such.  Where is the greater good?

 Unfortunately, the myriad of questions raised at this point aren't addressed. Is a clone a blank slate or do they have some semblance of their former selves? What restrictions are there on cloning (if any at all)? Rebecca is not a blood relative and despite disapproval, it doesn't seem that parental consent is a requirement for the process. The apparent ease of protocol for such an immense endeavour is thus all the more disturbing.

Hayley Atwell - Black Mirror

Rebecca makes her decision in haste. There's no grieving period. As in Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror (Be Right Back), the one left behind can't fathom life without their departed. Rather they channel grief into a more tangible denial - a carbon copy resurrection. The underlying thread in both 'Womb' and 'Black Mirror's Be Right Back' is that you can't beat the real thing. In each instance the copy proves to be hollow. They look identical, sound identical and with some prodding can tap into an earlier semblance of themselves. Yet where Black Mirror pushes through the hopelessness of resurrecting the dead and depicts its clone relatively harmless in its earnestness to please its owner, Womb has an altogether more sinister undertone. Here it's played out with incestuous undercurrents and sporadic outbursts of frustrated anger.

Green's acting is both restrained and desperate. I've always admired her ability to encapsulate the darker characters. Whether for being slightly unhinged or out of sync with their milieu, she always manages to play her part with the right amount of ambiguity. (Watch Franklyn and Cracks) I wasn't altogether too convinced with Smith's portrayal. Although as playful and wide-eyed as his younger counterpart, I never felt too enthralled with the more 'angst-ridden' scenes.

I enjoyed the scenery of 'Womb' - setting the narrative to a sleepy village near the sea was perfect for creating a sense of isolation and remoteness. Secrets don't remain as such for long in this contained context, whilst hostility and resentment are palpable between those who 'copy' and those who don't.


domhnall gleeson, never let me go, black mirror
Domhnall Gleeson in Never Let Me Go and Black Mirror
  • Both Black Mirror's Be Right Back and Never Let Me Go star Domhnall Gleeson in the role of a clone
  • The male protagonists of both Womb and Never Let Me Go are named Tommy

  • Both Never Let Me Go and Womb feature an abandoned, derelict boat beached on the shore. Whereas in NLMG, the boat may represent themes of mortality and freedom, in Womb it could be a motif for the isolation of the 'copies' and those who birthed them. In Womb I had the impression that it formed a brief sanctuary for Rebecca.

Empty Space - Air Traffic
"You've done enough, he's still alive and he's breathing on his own"

Have you seen Womb? Are there any more parallels you found between Womb and themes of cloning in other literature and/or film?

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