This film contains spoilers clearly marked at the end of the review. If you had questions about this film, I have all the answers you need.
What's It About?
OtherLife expands the brain’s sense of time and creates virtual reality directly in the mind. With OtherLife, mere seconds in real life feel like hours or days of exciting adventures. As Ren and her colleagues race around the clock to launch OtherLife, the government muscles in to use the drugs as a radical solution to prison overcrowding.
Quick Film Information
Released: June 2017 Sydney Film Festival and USA internet release in October 2017.
Screenplay: Gregory Widen, Kelley Eskridge, Ben C. Lucas.
Director: Ben C. Lucas
Starring: Jessica De Gouw (The Rezort 2015), Liam Graham (Hounds of Love 2016), T. J. Power (Offspring TV Series), Byron Finbar (Wolf Creek TV Series), Thomas Cocquerel (Look out for him in upcoming Billionaire Boys Club 2018.)
Genres: Crime | Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller.
How Was It?
OtherLife can be streamed on Netflix. It's an Aussie sci-fi from director Ben C. Lucas. Lucas's first film Wasted on the Young (2010), is also in the technology theme.
OtherLife is an easy watch and has many things within its narrative that lovers of futuristic plot devices will love. The layered story-line gives you plenty of things to think about. For example, it weaves its way along dropping clues and red herrings in its 96-minute runtime. Its storyline is driven by the lead actress Ren (Jessica De Gouw) who has created new tech which mimics real memories. Like any good scientist, she likes to make sure her product works and is keen on testing it on herself. Her agenda is not clear until midway through the film, but for a semi-slow burn movie, the pay off is well worth the wait.
The science elements can easily be rivaled by some of the best films of this type. VR films like The Matrix, Ready Player One and even Existenz come to mind when watching films with these themes. Western Australia is renowned for its picturesque coastlines, and the backdrop for many scenes featuring oceanic worlds, mountains, and snow could have you asking whether a holiday might be in order. The cinematography from Dan Freene is amazing.
Performances are excellent for a low-budget production. Even though the cast is small, the selection process was on point and casting work like a well-oiled machine. Each character suits the role they were given. Jessica De Gouw's Ren is so beautiful though, you will probably put the chips and chocolate down at some point while following the story along.
The film itself moves along quite quickly and by the end, some will have more questions than answers. If you've played any kind of interactive gaming, none of the science stuff should go over your head though.
The concepts introduced in OtherLife will get you thinking as it's incredibly relatable. Behind most sci-fi films and stories is a social commentary and this one is no different. OtherLife makes a point of answering one that pops up from time to time when people talk about overcrowding in jails. Ren's technology seems to be the perfect antidote for this scenario so of course there is a battle for ownership once her science is perfected.
Finally, I need to point out what I think are flaws. The timeline and its structure is somewhat convoluted and could have been simplified to please a wider audience. Overall, this film was a pleasant surprise and great spin on a tried and tested narrative.
I give OtherLife 3.5 cans of tuna in a box out of 5.
What Happed to Ren:
The drug has the ability to make a minute seem like days. When Ren is placed in her year-long incarceration inside OtherLife, not much time has elapsed in reality. We know this because people close to her were told she simply moved to Italy. Her father didn't believe she was dead, but that Ren was just missing.
When she breaks out of the cell, she has only broken out in her altered reality and is in fact still in the room at the facility with Sam.
What Happened to Danny:
Danny died and the decision to incarcerate her as a guinea pig was real. She was really in an OtherLife jail.
What Happened Sam:
Sam decided to keep her in OtherLife as a means to recreate her technology. When Ren's stint in jail proved successful, he kept her there to try and find evidence to recreate her technology. Sam wanted Byron to help him tweak the code they had into the product the government wanted to buy. He wanted the money.
The Ending Explained
The end depicts Ren and her father at the hospital. In Ren's altered state, she gave her brother Jared the drug and he woke up. Ren is seen pulling the plug to relieve him of his seizure and letting him die.
When Ren sees Danny in OtherLife, he explains he had a seizure which put him in hospital. He tells her how he drowned over and over again. Her Brother was explained to have drowned which resulted in his brain injury and life support. Ren had been struggling to keep her brother alive but OtherLife allowed her to realize Jared simply wanted to die. She and her father made the final decision to turn off his life support.
Do you have more questions? Leave me a comment and I will figure it out!
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