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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 03.28.17] Austria scifi

Movie dystopias tend to cover similar themes: overprotective governments, corporations run amuck, personal freedoms stifled. Writer/director Valentin Hitz's Hidden Reserves imagines a world with many of these themes but with an added twist.

Set in Europe in the near future, Clemens Schick stars as Vincent, a corporate drone schilling for the biggest business in the land: insurance companies. You see, in Hitz's future, death has been commoditized. Death insurance isn't simply something you buy to ensure your family is taken care of, it's a necessity if you plan to stay dead. If you die without insurance, your body is reanimated and used as a workhorse; everything from databanks to surrogate mothers.

Vincent is really good at his job and he's given a new challenge: shut down a group of revolutionaries determined to do damage to the company. His target is Lisa (Lena Lauzemis), the rebellious daughter of a rich tycoon who spends her days with the resistance. Vincent is sent underground to infiltrate the terror group and though he's warned about getting attached in any emotional way, he falls for Lisa causing endless complications.

I know. How could insurance be at all interesting but Hidden Reserves makes it about as compelling as its ever going to get. There's mystery, intrigue, espionage, sex and a very creepy dystopia. Though the story gets convoluted with layers of unnecessary plot and characters who only muddle the story further, the basic concept of being kept alive in order to repay some real or imagined debt is one of the most disturbing ideas I've seen in any recent vision of the future - if only because the possibility of it is all too real.

Dark and brooding, Hidden Reserves plays a lot like an espionage thriller. Visually the movie is mostly sapped of color and cinematographer Martin Gschlacht (The Wall, Goodnight Mommy) shoots this like a noir but Hiltz's script doesn't quite live up the promise. The plot ambles along as Lisa and Vincent involve themselves in needlessly complicated double-crosses which do nothing to develop the characters and try as they might, neither Lauzemis nor Schick manage to rise above the middling plot though Schick gives it a valiant effort. He provides more character motivation through a handful of looks than in nearly all of his dialog.

Hidden Reserves has a lot of potential which it doesn't quite meet. Though it peppers familiar tech and ideas into the story and manages to infuse the old with a new, terrifying concept, sadly much is lost in the convoluted, often confusing plot.

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Genius (1 year ago) Reply

I like that! I like the look of the film and the mood. I'll check it out when I can find it on DVD.

In the US once you are born you are an insurance policy on the stock market this is why you are given a SS number.
The future is already here.

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