eXistenZ

eXistenZ

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

In the confines of a virtual reality computer game, there is no knowing where reality begins and virtual ends. Everything is possible. Even life after death. David Cronenberg revels in the wonder of strange. What he craves is mystery, which is why sci-fi whets his imagination. The call of the unknown becomes irresistible and so he creates a world within a world where bone guns shoot teeth and a ski boot doubles as a handbag.

Allegra Geller is the queen of game designers, committed to her electronic muse, awkward around people and passionate about the work. During a seminar to introduce her new game, eXistenZ, an attempt is made on her life and she finds herself, with Ted Pikul, a lowly employee of the computer company, on the run from subversive rebel forces, intent on disconnecting her power source.

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This is the beginning of an inventive and bizarre adventure, in which all manner of real and imaginary dangers conspire to damage her organic console and destroy eXistenZ. Jennifer Jason Leigh has the intense acting style and vibrant sensuality to bring Allegra's ever-increasing paranoia to the gates of perception. Jude Law, as the supposed innocent, Pikul, gives a caught-in-the-headlights impression of a man swept off balance. What could have been a stereotypical sidekick role is wrestled to the fore by Law's refusal to play dumb.

Cronenberg has created a dazzling star in the futuristic psycho-thriller firmament. What you see is not necessarily what you get. As Allegra says: "You have to play the game to find out why you're playing the game."

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Virtual reality gets messy!
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Director: David Cronenberg

Writer: David Cronenberg

Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe, Don McKellar, Callum Keith Rennie, Christopher Eccleston, Sarah Polley, Robert A. Silverman, Oscar Hsu, Kris Lemche

Year: 1999

Runtime: 111 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US/Canada/UK

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