Cronenberg’s Tragic Love Story - "The Fly" Review
Unlike the vast majority of horror films, The Fly doesn't start with a teaser scene about the menace to come.
No. The Fly begins practically as a romantic comedy between two charismatic characters.
At its core, this is the love story between eccentric scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) and sexy smart journalist Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), who first met at a boring press event. Brundle, hypnotized by Veronica, decides to show her his ultra-secret project that, according to him, will undoubtedly "change the world". It's a teleportation system between two “telepods".
Telepods can only transport inanimate objects, so Brundle proposes to Veronica that she practically move in with him to document the entire scientific process that will conclude with Brundle himself teleporting. It's a paradigm shift breakthrough, and now she has the exclusive.
What starts with a unique professional proposal will become an intense passionate romance between them.
On a night, where alcohol and jealousy took the better part of him, Brundle decides to advance the experiment deadline and teleport himself. The disaster begins when, without realizing it, a housefly enters the telepod, merging at a molecular-genetic level with him in the process. But the mutation isn't automatic. Brundle will slowly turn into this new and horrendous human-fly mix.
At this point is when the horror begins and it has a way greater impact because the destruction of our protagonists is a slow, painful, disgusting and unstoppable process.
Cronenberg masterfully uses Brundle's decomposition as the very structure of the film's rhythm. That's why the journey begins as a rom-com and culminates as the most disturbing and dark body horror film in cinematic history.
Because, being Cronenberg, the Brundle mutation is obviously traumatic, explicit and perfectly designed and filmed. It's practically impossible not to be disgusted by the slow creation of "Brundlefly".
The Fly is a classic because its elements of horror are intimately linked with a tragic love story. The sense of loss and erosion is much more powerful that way. It's obvious that Veronica and Brundle love each other, but the devastating effects of Brundle's condition make any semblance of normality simply impossible. Not only in the unmistakable physical aspect but mostly in the way the mutation affects the personality of both and the way they end up perceiving each other.
From the historical context at the time of its release (1986), it's easy to associate The Fly with the global impact of AIDS. At that time, ignorance, the fear of contracting the infection, the physical and mental degenerative impact of the carrier, the absence of an effective treatment and the social rejection of that relatively new virus was the main nightmare of virtually any new relationship.
What's Your Rating For The Fly?
Cronenberg has often expressed that The Fly is not particularly about AIDS, but about the impact that any disease, terminal conditions and even the general aging process has on relationships.
The Fly is a cultural metaphor about mortality, seen as a gradual degenerative process and not as a sudden act. Mortality permeates the way we see the world, perceive our loved ones and create (or not) our new families.
The horror of The Fly is legendary because it works at a visceral level (body horror) and at a psychological level. Decay is something that all of us, at different levels, will have to deal sooner or later.
Title: The Fly
Release Year: 1986
Director(s): David Cronenberg
Actors: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards