Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Rodrigo Ordoñez's feature debut may, for the most part, be set in the not-too-distant future, but it opens in 1978, as the Mexican authorities intercept a truck's illegal 'diplomatic cargo', bound for American ambassador Richard Jennings, and containing the wired-up, shaven-headed twin brother of Jennings' terminally ill son, Matias. The ensuing political scandal forces Jennings' resignation – but some five decades later, the now ageing Matias is regional CEO of Omelab Genetics, a multinational that has transformed the lives of humans through the very technology that enabled Matias himself to cheat death so many years ago.

The Seventies-set prologue of Depositarios marks the film not just as science fiction, but as parallel history – a reimagined world that relates to our own like a hidden mirror image, much as the 'depositaries' of the title are human twins, medically maintained in a vegetative state and kept out of sight in massive warehouses. These doubles were originally engineered to be customised organ banks, until the accidental discovery of far greater psychological benefits that they could bring to their siblings when 'connected' via a biological port below the earlobe.

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And so, just as these hairless, dehumanised ciphers serve as dumping grounds for the negative sensations and emotions of their more privileged twins, the film itself furnishes a genre-bound environment on which can be projected all manner of contemporary anxieties, as Ordoñez's future drama gives a human face to the complex ethical questions raised by, for example, stem cell research, cloning, medical exploitation and social exclusion.

The depositary of Carla (Alejandro Ambrosi) has been abducted by her obsessive ex-boyfriend Pedro (Cesar Ramos), who hopes to recreate his lost love in her more docile double. Detective Mario Cabal (Gustavo Sánchez Parra) is investigating the case, even as he finds himself with conflicted feelings towards the corporate-managed second foetus that his pregnant wife is carrying – and if his partner Lieutenant Ignacio Pardo (Jose Carlo Montes) is in bed with a journalist who hopes to expose Omelab Genetics' darkest secrets, he himself is sleeping with a human rights Observer (Anilú Pardu), who is also moonlighting with a 'terrorist' group determined to liberate the depositaries from catatonic 'slavery'. Meanwhile, other disenfranchised 'Impares' are plotting to show society the inhuman price of its blinkered bourgeois existence.

Ordoñez has previously concentrated his efforts on writing and directing short films, and perhaps that is where his skills lie – for while there is no deficit of big ideas in Depositarios, what the film does lack is a compelling narrative to bring all its vignette-like episodes together, or the sort of driving pace that would keep the viewer's attention for the duration. What remains is a sedate, not always coherent construct that somehow seems less than the sum of its harvested parts – a film that plays better in the brain than on the screen, leaving viewers, like Carla, feeling oddly disconnected where they might better have been plugged-in and more fully engaged.

Reviewed on: 29 Apr 2010
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Futuristic clone thriller sees genetic doubles suffering the pain of their 'real world' twin.
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Director: Rodrigo Ordoñez

Writer: Rodrigo Ordoñez

Starring: Alejandra Ambrosi, Cesar Ramos, Jose Carlos Montes, Humberto Busto, Gustavo Sánchez Parra, Anilú Pardo

Year: 2010

Runtime: 111 minutes

Country: Mexico


Sci-Fi 2010

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