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Womb

Year: 2010
Production Co: Razor Film Produktion GmbH
Director: Benedek Fliegauf
Writer: Benedek Fliegauf
Cast: Eva Green, Matt Smith

I'm really liking the recent trend of high minded sci-fi ideas in low-fi, low budget movies, even if the films in the genre aren't all as perfect as their spiritual progenitor, Primer. The nearest high water mark remains I, Origins.

Womb is one of those where the idea was better than the execution. The execution is certainly present and robust, with a cinematic language and an atmosphere that it commands unwaveringly, but like a lot of these screen stories do, it tends to edge out story over mood.

Eva Green is a Rebecca, a woman living in a lonely cottage on a desolate, wintry coast. She speaks little, and when she does it's in low tones accompanied by winsome looks of her huge, unblinking eyes. We learn through flashbacks about how she used to visit her ageing grandfather in the house she now lives in, and how she fell in love with a boy in the area during a whirlwind childhood summer romance.

Years later, returning to take care of her grandfather's affairs after he dies, she looks up the boy, now grown in the form of Thomas (Matt Smith). Why she's still attracted to a sulking, brattish manchild is one of the mysteries of the film that's never explained, but their relationship is cut short when Thomas is run over and killed one day.

Having learned about a process of impregnating surrogate mothers with cloned cells from dead people, Rebecca is distraught enough at the loss (though you'd never know it – her default setting is quiet and solemn throughout) to volunteer to bear the clone of her dead lover.

As young Tommy grows up to his teens, gets a girlfriend, etc, it naturally opens up all kinds of cans of worms about the distinctions between parent/child relationships and those of equals/lovers. The movie doesn't answer all those questions – and nor does it seem to intend to – and that's fine. Like the best sci-fi it should establish the conversation, not complete it.

But there's so much mood-setting and visual style the actual story takes up far less of the running time than the rest of the movie does, and it will try some viewers' patience to get where it's going.

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