Clone – Matt Smith and Eva Green dabble with DNA – Available Now on DVD

My review of this sci-fi curiosity (originally called ‘Womb’) is also over at Memorable TV… 

Taking the all too real issue of moral and ethical problems with genetic engineering as its core, Clone is a compelling mixed bag of tricks. Crossing future-shock fiction with doomed romance, the film spins an intriguing spell and is all the better for keeping a hold of some of the mystery obviously present in its original spark.

Hungarian writer and director Benedek Fliegauf’s inspired use of the stunning landscape of the Frisian Islands as the film’s backdrop creates a magical, dreamlike quality in the story, which sadly the script never quite manages to match. That said, there are two extremely good performances on show from the ever intriguing Eva Green (Casino Royale, Dark Shadows) and the current Doctor Who, Matt Smith, putting in a bit of extra sci-fi work away from the Tardis.

The story, as is often the case with this type of speculative fiction, plays second fiddle to the unsettling mood and dramatically shot landscapes. The story, such as it is, concerns Rebecca and Thomas’s childhood romance and Rebecca’s subsequent departure with her family to Japan. When she returns 12 years later, their relationship is quickly renewed in an adult context. Tragedy strikes soon after with the upshot being that Rebecca decides to carry the cloned baby of Smith’s DNA…

From that enticing concept Clone follows the obsessive love and asks ‘how far would you go?’ Well, probably not that far, as the film leaves us in little doubt that it would turn out to be a nightmare. Haunting performances create a surreal climate of beautiful dread and while the plot does not much move far beyond the central concept, the mood is pitched so well that it doesn’t completely matter.

In one of the most powerful and effective scenes a young girl is encountered who is the source of all sorts of gossip and legend. Clones are derogatorily known as ‘copies’ and ‘smell like window cleaner’. It is an example of the powerful way that Fliegauf attempts to imagine just how cloning would (will?) become part of the local culture.

Also featuring a brief but commanding appearance from Mike Leigh favourite Lesley Manville (Another Year, Secrets & Lies) Clone (originally titled Womb) is a well realised curiosity with plenty to recommend it. If it occasionally falters through unclear plotting or misjudged conclusions it is redeemed by the powerful dream logic that pervades all.

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