Womb (2010, 1 hr 51 mins)
Wow! I just watch a real mind bender. As slow-moving as it was, Womb really eases you into a weird world of love, loss and yes, cloning.
In the not-so-distant future, a young Rebecca (Ruby O. Fee) meets a young Tommy (Tristan Christopher) during a stay at her Grandpa’s beach town home. They become fast friends, running around a bleak beach side, until Rebecca has to move to Japan with her mother. Tommy misses her send off at the ferry, and the two lose contact. 12 years later, Rebecca (Eva Green) returns to the town, and searches for Tommy (Dr. Who’s Matt Smith). She finds him, and they quickly rekindle their friendship, much to the chagrin of Tommy’s new lover, Rose (Natalia Tena who plays Osha on Game of Thrones). Their bond lasted over the years and they start a romance that is abruptly ended when Tommy is run down in a car accident.
Rebecca is distraught and comes up with a unique way to preserve Tommy’s memory. After an initial objection by Tommy’s parents, they give their blessing and DNA, and she prepares to carry a cloned embryo of her lost love. Her pregnancy is cocooned with a smug serenity, and after the birth, she raises Tommy-2 with the same protective ownership that she exhibited as a little girl when they were friends. Cloning is not a received method of procreation however, and once her secret is revealed by a disgruntled Rose, who had seen Rebecca at the cloning lab, Rebecca is ostracized by the town’s mothers. She retreats to an isolated beach cottage, and they live in relative seclusion until Tommy-2 becomes a young man. Rebecca’s love has been defined until now, and the lines between maternal love and passion become blurred and distorted. Tommy-2 brings home the giggly Monica (Hannah Murray), and they live with Rebecca; her watchful eye smouldering with jealousy as Tommy-2 enjoys young love. Her obsessive love starts to worry Monica, and when Tommy-2’s grandmother/mother shows up unannounced, things fall apart.
From the handful of reviews I browsed, Womb got more pans than praise, but I actually liked this slow-moving, quiet film. It reminded me of another movie that crossed the taboo line, Birth with Nicole Kidman; the story of a woman who is lead to believe her husband is reincarnated in a 12 year old boy. They were both eerie and made you wrap your head around notions of what is acceptable and what is considered sanity and selfish obsession. I liked the subtle science fiction slant to Womb. It wasn’t the only focus of the film, allowing the “what if?” aspect of cloning, lost love and the consequences to take the forefront. I imagine that in the real world, this situation would have been banned by some sort of ethics or incest law, but it brings to question: Was she just a womb, a mother, or a caretaker raising her lost love?
Hungarian director Benedek Fliegauf was criticized for the lack of dialogue in the film (perhaps this was because it was his first film in English), but I felt the cast had the talent to convey emotion and the mood of each scene without much talk. Matt Smith was brilliant as Tommy/Tommy-2 and it was great to see his range of acting aside from the quirky Doctor Who. I loved how Smith played up Tommy-2 almost remembering things but not quite, like the first Tommy’s memory still lingered in his DNA. Eva Green played Rebecca with this subtle, creeping turmoil that reveals itself little-by-little. My only issue with her character was the fact that she did not age that much. Was this because in the future, aging is conquered? This point was never addressed. I also liked Ruby O. Fee who played the young Rebecca. She really captured the obsessiveness with young Tommy that carried through to adulthood. She actually gave me the creeps a few times, especially when she watched young Tommy sleeping.
While not for everyone and not the perfect film, Womb is worth a watch for the slow burn creepy/eerie atmosphere and story that distorts the norms of love, science and sanity.
Most Memorable Line (and Scene): Young Tommy-2 plays with his “mother” Rebecca and they chase each other until young Tommy-2 wrestles her to the ground, holding her down. “Now I can do whatever I want to you”, he says in a weird, menacing way, and Rebecca replies, “Go ahead…”, looking meaningfully into his eyes. Yeah, that’s not creepy. Not at all.