Monday, July 13, 2015

Advantageous, A Film To Make You Weep For Your Future

It’s that rare film: instantly mesmerizing, a story of slow, sustained suspense, with a plot delivery that’s more horrifying than what was promised.

It’s that rare film: a science fiction film written, directed and produced by Asian Americans. Even starring!

It’s that rare film: an American indie production that isn’t twee and doesn’t feature cute, young, awkward girls/boys thinking sex is escape but ultimately makes you all grown up.

It’s that rare film: a sci fi story without a time machine or killer robots/computers/aliens/virtual reality. The violence is internal.

Watching it, I was amazed by the storytelling. How in the world was it keeping that level of suspense without falling into tedium? And then the next day, I couldn’t think — I just felt what the movie was about: an unemployed single mother willing to risk her life to make sure her daughter will have every advantage possible in a world where men have decided that women should be unemployed. It’s remarkable how director Jennifer Phang decided to choose a sober, surreal technique to infuse the movie with despair. Women’s despair. The despair is physical, like a tree in the way a homeless woman is melting into the urban landscape. It’s music, the weeping heard above an apartment, below, and then inside, the most acute listener a young girl, this world her inheritance. Our inheritance. Our reality. Only we’ve chosen not to hear the weeping.

For an indie film, the movie has a large, impressive cast with no weak links. And yes, it’s that rare film: Ken Jeong in a serious role! Jacqueline Kim, who’s also credited as a writer, is wonderful to watch as the mother, and Jennifer Ehle gives a surprising performance as the one female doing quite well in the corporate world, the one woman men will point to and say, “See! There’s no sexism!” She’s doing quite well because she’s brilliant, ruthless, creepy, manipulative, immoral. Those qualities in either man or woman will bring success! The truth is, even men are helpless, but their weeping contained bursts of anger. Thus Advantageous is a complete world. That rare film.

I saw the film on Netflix. Hope Netflix keeps it around for a long time.