Realive (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2016]

realiveMarc Jarvis has made a good life for himself, a successful career, a house by the beach, great friends, and the love of his life by his side.  That is until he is diagnosed with an incurable disease.  He decides to live to the fullest and die on his own terms, then get cryogenically frozen until a time when his disease can be cured.  When this day comes, he is put back together like some kind of futuristic Frankenstein’s Monster and brought back to life.

“Realive”’s writer and director is known to most cinephiles as the man who wrote “Thesis,” “Abre Los Ojos” (basis for the American remake “Vanilla Sky”), “The Sea Inside,” etc.  The man can write a movie and create great stories, this film is no exception.  Here he crafts a story about living, dying, the right to choose how we go out, love, sickness, science, and the limits of science. He builds a layered story that can be taken on the surface or dug deeper into.  His characters are not perfect, yes the lead is rich as a way to advance the story but he’s also a man attempting to be better, to leave those around him better off. The main part of what keeps the attention in this film is the emotions, how everything affects the people involved, and the audience.

The ending is emotional as is a good part of the film; especially for those having dealt with degenerative diseases themselves or in those they love. A perfectly stable hand was required to handle this subject and emotions and Mateo Gil does very well with them. To support this story, the cast was perhaps the most important aspect.  Here the lead of Marc Jarvis, the frozen and rebuilt man is played by Tom Hughes who shows a variety of emotions and nuances, being his most effective when playing against actress Oona Chaplin as his character’s girlfriend Naomi, his scenes with and involving her are the most powerful ones, especially later in the film.  Chaplin, for her part, is more effusive which fits her passionate character better.  She’s Jarvis’ anchor in life and in his memory and has a charming screen presence.

She’s balanced out by Charlotte Le Bon as Nurse Elizabeth who’s colder, more controlled until her patient, Marc Jarvis, gets to her and cracks start that hard shell.  These three leads have the most to work with and play quite well with each other. The chemistry between Hughes and Chaplin and between Hughes and Le Bon is different and definitely palpable.  The story’s success hinging so much on the viewer’s reaction to these, the connections are of high importance.

The way the film is shot and put together with music in ways that add to its effectiveness.  The film is built in flashbacks that establish who the leads are from childhood into adulthood, when they met, how they fell in love, what happens after he learns of his incurable disease, etc.  These flashbacks are not in linear order yet they work well.  The film is edited this way for the story and more than likely planned this way.  Editor Guillermo de la Cal takes this and builds with it.  The way these flashbacks are edited makes them feel organic to the story, like they are out of the lead’s memories, whether good or bad, they are what he clings to in his rehabilitation.

The flashbacks are shot in a way that most of them feel warm while the hospital or back-to-life scenes are shot to feel cold.  Cinematographer Pau Esteve Birba creates two separate looks and feelings for each while keeping a style and framing that keeps the film flowing together and avoids the creation of two disjointed worlds.  “Realive” does not only look good and well put together, it also sounds just right with music by Lucas Vidal who creates a sound for the film that adds to the emotions. The special effects must also be noted.  The team led by Lucia Solama did great work.

Most of the film has little to no effects but a few scenes at the medical facility get gross and the props and effects created for this look great and quite realistic. “Realive” is a tale of one man not wanting his life to be cut short by disease, willing to entrust his body to science to be brought back, then how this is done, and what the consequences are for him and the doctors.  It looks at life, enjoyment of it, what it takes some people to live life to the fullest.  It also looks at science and what advancements can do versus if it actually should be done.  It’s a human story with themes almost anyone can identify with.  It’s a powerful movie that leaves the viewer feeling and questioning things.

Fantasia International Film Festival ran from July 14th until August 3rd, 2016 and will be back in the summer of 2017.