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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 07.24.16] France scifi

For decades individuals have been cryonically preserved and though the technology has been around since the sixties and is relatively inexpensive (you can get yourself – or your pet - frozen for less than the cost of some funerals), the practice remains on the fringes. Society is always on the search for the next miracle cure and the secret to slowing down the aging process but when it comes right down to it, freezing yourself to be re-animated at a later date takes a special kind of commitment and a special kind of person.

Mateo Gil's Realive introduces us to one of those special people: artist Marc Jarvis. Young, handsome and successful, at 33 Marc is diagnosed with cancer and given less than a year to live. Rather than let his body deteriorate, he chooses to end his life on his own terms and cryonically preserve himself while still relatively healthy in hopes that when his form of cancer is curable, he'll be brought back: Lazarus raised from the dead.

Fast forward 60 years. Marc is awakened in 2085. He is the first individual successfully reanimated but the technology is still in its infancy and the road to a normal life is long and difficult. The world has changed, everyone he knows is gone and the weight of his decision begins to torment him. Did he make the right choice? Was it worthwhile to cut short the best time of his life for a shot at another life? Is eternal life really all it's hyped up to be when you can't share it with the people you love? Gil asks all the big questions and the answers aren't necessarily what one might expect.

It should come as no surprise that Realive delves into some hefty themes. It's what writer/director Gil excels at exploring though usually, his stories and themes are expanded on with frequent collaborator Alejandro Amenábar behind the camera. Here, Gil gets a chance to guide the drama to largely successful results.

Though it features the now familiar white color palette common among utopian societies of the movies, the use of it here makes for a great visual distinction between Marc's present and his past. The present is largely color muted and sterile, all hard surfaces and fancy tech which keep Marc at a distance from the people around him while the past, the memories he spends much of his time with, are vibrant, richly coloured and welcoming.

There's a sad longing which comes through in nearly every frame of the film and most of it is in part due to Tom Hughes' performance which is just the right blend of cockiness and vulnerability and plays exceptionally well against both Charlotte Le Bon as Elizabeth, the nurse entrusted with his well being, and Oona Chaplin as Naomi, the love of Marc's life.

Realive is smart and demure and for all the striking visuals, Gil is far more concerned with the ideas and themes of his story than with the flash which surrounds it. The resulting movie is a beautiful exploration of what it really means to live and to heed the life we have for it can never be replaced.

Realive had its world premiere at Fantasia today and screens again on July 27.

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