Running Time: 108 mins. Rating: 4 Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Distributor: IFC Films
Cast: Caleb Landry Jones, Sarah Gadon, Malcolm McDowell, Douglas Smith, Joe Pingue, Nicholas Campbell
Reviewed at Cannes International Film Festival
I can’t get away from the Cannes Film Festival without watching a Canadian flick. And what better film to check out than the young Brandon Cronenberg’s first movie, ANTIVIRAL. If you’re expecting something like CONTAGION, get ready. You’re in for a surprise. Set in a vastly unreal world where people take celebrity obsession to the millionth degree, you can literally purchase a herpes injection on your mouth as if the star actually kissed you in real life. Whether you’d like to admit it not, I don’t think we’re too far away from this sick fantasy.
ANTIVIRAL will suck you in with its all-white walls and lack of music. You’re always in a clinical environment, whether you’re trying to develop skin cell patches (good-bye ‘I love you’ tattoos) or injecting yourself with the next celebrity virus, the whole idea is that you’re sharing a specific experience that links you that much closer to your picture-perfect idol. Clearly, Louboutins are just too accessible these days. Let’s kick it up a notch and catch the bug!
Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) is an employee at the Lucas Clinic who injects the latest viruses into himself and transfers them out to the black market. Of course he’s just as obsessed as his clients when he rushes to take in the famous Hannah Geist’s (Sarah Gadon) fatal virus that makes him a very valuable commodity for competing clinics and anxious fans. Like any celebrity mystery, there are elements of some sort of organized crime among competing companies trying to grab exclusivity on this product. Imagine, being the only one to share a death with Hannah Geist? Please, don’t hold your breath.
As unbelievable as that might seem, I can totally see this madness happening tomorrow. Perhaps that’s what makes it that much more alluring (and unfortunately, inevitably disturbing). There was a quiet applause for Brandon, but I must say, this was a very good show and ridiculously daring for a first film.
If you’re terrified of needles, you should watch this film. It’ll kick that fear right out of your system and you might even get a little sexually aroused with the intensity of these injections. Don’t lie to me, you’re just as sick as I am.
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