GIF002

* * * * * Review for Simon Pummell’s IDENTICALS: “An ambitious, stunning, mind-bending slice of Sci-Fi Noir, writer/director Simon Pummell’s visually striking, Identicals riffs on Vertigo and John Frankenheimer’s Seconds to create a rich, complex vision of the near future that out-Dicks Philip K. Dick”

Review: Identicals
David Watson
August 14, 2016
DVDs & Rentals, Editor’s Choice
Buy the DVD here
How far would you go to make your life perfect? To start again, remake yourself, reboot your life? To be the best version of you that you can be? Would you walk out on your old life, abandon everyone and everything you’ve ever known, turn your back on the one you love? And if you change every aspect of your life, in effect become a brand new you, what’s left? Would you still be…you?

Celebrating his birthday with a romantic, candle-lit tryst with his beautiful girlfriend Nadia (Nora-Jane Noone), Slater’s (Lachlan Nieboer) life is shattered when masked assailants break in and kidnap her, Slater killing one of them in the process.

But when the attacker is unmasked, she could be Nadia’s twin, could be Nadia, is identical to her in every way. To all intents and purposes, Slater has just murdered the woman he loves. At least, that’s how it will look to the police who are on their way…

Desperate to find Nadia, Slater tracks her to the offices of Brand New-U, a mysterious organisation that specialises in whole-life upgrades; for a price, you’ll be given a new identity, a better identity, a new job, a better job, new flat, better flat, new friends, better friends. You’ll be a new you. A better you. The only catch is you must turn your back on your old life, sever all ties. Because someone else, an identical, your doppelganger, will be living your old life.

Slater signs up, is rebooted, given a new job and a gleaming, antiseptic new apartment to match his gleaming, antiseptic new life. But Slater isn’t quite ready to give up on Nadia, pursuing the woman he loves through her subsequent incarnations. But is the Nadia he’s chasing really his Nadia? And is he still the same Slater?

An ambitious, stunning, mind-bending slice of Sci-Fi Noir, writer/director Simon Pummell’s visually striking, Identicals riffs on Vertigo and John Frankenheimer’s Seconds to create a rich, complex vision of the near future that out-Dicks Philip K. Dick, his protagonist descending into a hallucinatory, red-tinged hell of his own making as he pursues those most elusive of goals; true love and his own identity.

Essentially a two-hander, Lachlan Nieboer and Nora-Jane Noone are wonderful as the myriad of versions of Slater and Nadia, Noone in particular deliciously ambiguous, flitting between unsatisfied girlfriend, wide-eyed innocent and femme fatale. Like Slater we’re never sure which Nadia we’re with, if it’s the same woman or many, a duplicitous harpy or a consummate gameplayer; she keeps us, and him guessing, and perhaps if their relationship had still had that dangerous edge of mystery, she’d never have had to seek out the services of Brand New-U in the first place. Confused, vulnerable and utterly obsessed, Nieboer’s Slater is almost an archetypal Noir hero; a man betrayed, unraveling, trapped in the gears of a conspiracy he can’t make sense of, forced to question everything, love, identity, the very nature of reality, everything he once took for granted, at one point even his own sexuality when one of his watchdogs (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D’s Nick Blood) makes a pass at him.

Like all the best Sci-Fi, Pummell’s paranoid fever dream isn’t about spaceships and rayguns and big, angry robots punching each other, it’s really about who we are now and what we’ve already become and Identicals is both a philosophical meditation on the nature of love, desire and identity in an increasingly post-human world and a smart, sexy suspense thriller. This is Science Fiction for grown ups.