Advantageous (2015, written and directed by Jennifer Phang)
[No. 9 of 52 of #52FilmsByWomen]
Advantageous an interesting exploration on how society values the appearance and looks of women above all other qualities. Particularly how this clashes with that other societal pressure placed on women – the responsibilities of motherhood.
It is a story about Gwen, played by Jaqueline Kim, as a PR representative for a company that specialises on a cosmetic procedure where one `uploads their minds’ into a completely new body. This is essentially the concept of cosmetic surgery taken to its extreme logical end-point. The middle-aged Gwen lost her job because the company wanted a younger/more attractive face to represent the company. Needing the income to send her daughter to a good school, she decides to undergo the procedure herself in order to keep her job.
This movie is probably the best science-fiction movie I’ve seen in recent times. Although some may say the movie might feel slow at times, I was completely on board with Gwen’s story and her wonderful daughter Jules (Samantha Kim). I think the reason is because despite its slow pace, with every new scene we learn a little bit more about each character’s motivation. And early in the movie I had the impression that the identity of Jules’ father was supposed to be a mystery, and I paid strict attention to every scene and line to figure out the back-stories of each character.
This is the kind of movie you’ll never see coming out of a big Hollywood studio, especially considering it stars a middle-aged Asian woman struggling with her career. Nevertheless Jacqueline Kim and Samantha Kim were fantastic as mother and daughter. (Looking at their last names, I’m not sure if they actually mother and daughter in real life?) Throughout the movie, they had a wide range of different interactions. Sometimes we see Jules as a responsible and obedient child, though sometimes she might turn defiant and rebellious. This range is what makes them believable, as this what most parents and their kids go through.
The science-fiction (SF) conceit here is that you can transfer your mind into another body. It’s one of my favourite topics in SF and Advantageous gives an interesting exploration of its consequences. To say anything more might be spoilers so I guess I’ll leave it at that.
This is a great film. The pacing might put some people off, but it’s really worth watching. If it weren’t for the 52Films hashtag wouldn’t have discovered this gem.