Self/Less Shows That Science Fiction Requires Sacrifice

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If you found out you could live forever, would you want to? And what lengths would you go to? These are a couple of the questions posed by upcoming science fiction thriller Self/Less.

Self/Less is directed by Tarsem Singh, who is known for his eye-popping visuals in Mirror Mirror, Immortals, The Cell, and my personal favorite, The Fall, which is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. Self/Less was written by David and Àlex Pastor, who also penned Out of the Dark, The Last Days, and Carriers. They seem to have a good grasp on horror.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Haven’t we already seen this story before? Of course we have. The idea of transferring consciousness is a staple of sci fi, from high-tech films like James Cameron’s Avatar to the low-tech Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, so mercilessly mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Even Vanilla Sky (itself a remake of Alejandro Amenábar’s Open Your Eyes) touches on this topic with the Life Extension technology described in the film. Novelist Tanith Lee also explored the idea of mind upload in her 1979 novella The Electric Forest. More recently, there was Transcendence, which we’d probably all rather forget: a great idea hamstrung by terrible execution.

That was then; this is now. With near-constant advances in computer technology and genetic research, actual consciousness transference appears to be within reach. Self/Less seems to fit perfectly within the cultural zeitgeist.

Tarsem Singh has been criticized for being a director who values style over substance, but when the substance in question is so intriguing, the chance that Self/Less might actually be a terrific movie increases exponentially. Besides, The Fall was not only a beautiful film, but also truly moving, thanks to the script and the cast.

Self/Less features Sir Ben Kingsley, who we already know is a terrific actor, and Ryan Reynolds, who has been on a hot streak lately thanks to his critically acclaimed performance in Marjane Satrapi’s black horror comedy, The Voices. Matthew Goode is also in Self/less and we know he can do creepy, thanks to films like Stoker.

Here’s the official synopsis of Self/Less and the trailer:

In this provocative psychological science fiction thriller, an extremely wealthy man dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man. But all is not as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body’s origin and the organization that will kill to protect its cause.

Looks like some bad stuff is going to go down, especially after they put that mesh mask over Ben Kingsley’s face.

Now there’s also a short clip from the film online that gives a bit more context without being too spoilery (dig the way Matthew Goode pronounces the word “tissue”):

Self/Less opens in theaters on July 10.

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