eXistenZA review - by Shlomoh Sherman
Directed by David Cronenberg
Plot: In the near-future, organic virtual reality game consoles known as "game pods" have replaced electronic ones. The pods are attached to "bio-ports", outlets inserted at players' spines, through umbilical cords. Two game companies, Antenna Research and Cortical Systematics compete against each other. In addition, a group of "realists" fights both companies to prevent the "deforming" of reality.
When I first saw this film in 2000, I really liked it and appreciated the concept of an electronic game which biologically interacts with the human gamer, although honestly, I have never really been into computer games or video games. But, well, I think I have always been in love with Jennifer Jason Leigh since first seeing her in SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, and certainly after seeing her up close on the stage in a play whose name escapes me at the moment. At 40 something, she looked like she was 25. Of course, also in DELORES CLAYBORNE.
Jude Law did such a good job that I didn't even recognize him till the middle of the film. His terrific American accent completely threw me off. Not until the end of the film does he revert to his real British accent.
When I then showed it to Judy and her friends, they ridiculed me mercilessly because they thought the film stunk. After seeing it again last week via cable TV, I appreciated it even more. And I realized that Judy and her friends are just too stupid to see how good a film eXistenZ really is.
Basically, the plot surrounds the new video-bio game invented by Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the greatest game designer in the world. She is testing the game out with a focus group at a seminar when she is shot superficially in the shoulder in an assassination attempt but is rescued by her body guard and marketing trainee, Ted Pikul (Jude Law).
After escaping from the seminar building, and dressing her shoulder wound, Allegra talks Ted into playing eXistenZ with her.
The game leads both of them into a mutual game world where all is dark and dirty. When I say dirty, I mean literally that all the places where they go have a dark, filthy look, the look of a garage or warehouse that has not be cleaned for years. And the characters they encounter have a dark and dirty aspect as well.
In the game world, the audience cannot tell who is friend or foe to Allegra because some of them attempt to assassinate her again. But Ted always comes to the rescue.
As the game proceeds, reality becomes more and more distorted so that they no longer can tell whether or not they have left the game or are still in it.
After a series of "close calls" by various villains, Allegra and Ted emerge from the game to find themselves back in the seminar room. But this is not exactly the same room from which they escaped. They are told that their whole game adventure is part of a virtual reality game called "tranCendenZ" played by the cast, mirroring the first scene. Suddenly one of the participants asks, "Are we still in the game?". Ted and Allegra stare at him, unsure of the answer.
For those who are curious, after reading this review, I have saved this film on my TIVO and will copy it and send it to anyone who wishes to see it.
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