Teknolust

on August 22, 2003 by Annlee Ellingson
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"Teknolust" is a delight. Fairly bursting at the seams with imagination and humor, it is hands-down the most creative and original work to come out of Sundance this year.

   Indie queen Tilda Swinton stars as the winkingly-named Dr. Rosetta Stone, a geeky biogeneticist who has, unbeknownst to her colleagues, embarked on a dangerous experiment at home, cloning SRAs (self-replicating automatons) in her image. Ruby (also Swinton) is the most adventurous of the triplets, venturing out at night armed with pickup lines from old movies to collect sperm for an injection vital for the survival of her and her sisters, Olive (Swinton again) and Marinne (ditto). Her exploits have a side effect, however, resulting in itchy bar codes appearing on the foreheads of all of her conquests. Rosetta's peers fear the worst, that biowarfare has commenced, and investigate while she tries to keep her "children" from being discovered.

   With Rosetta distracted, Ruby is unmonitored and continues to go out without permission. She crosses paths with Sandy (Jeremy Davies), a bored, amusingly inept copy boy, and begins to experience a new emotion: love. And Olive and Marinne, tired of missing out on the "real" world, decide to explore it on their own.

   Swinton is flawless in her multiple roles: Her icy, android features, perfect for playing virtual characters, morph into soft dowdiness for when she appears as Rosetta. (Director/writer/producer Lynn Hershman Leeson's gleeful sense of humor becomes apparent when Rosetta goes to a salon, requesting a makeover--to look "like Bjork." She emerges looking exactly the same...but with a new attitude.) Meanwhile Swinton effectively differentiates the cyber trio, portraying Ruby as sexy and confident, even when eating a decadent donut for the first time; Olive as nurturing and obedient; and Marinne as needy and belligerent, encrypting her speech to rebel against her mother.

   Photographe d by Hiro Narita on the new 24p digital high-definition camera and designed by Chris Farmer, with inspired costumes, such as the girls' jewel-colored kimonos, by Yohji Yamamoto and Marianna Astrom-DeFina, "Teknolust" is an achievement in digital filmmaking that Leeson's peers will be hard-pressed to emulate. The film's script, given its cyber-punk leanings, is ideally suited for the format and carries on in the real "real" world via a website at www.agentruby.com.

Yet remarkably, for all its cerebral and technophilic philosophizing--asking the big questions like, "How do you patent life?"--"Teknolust" at its core has a bohemian, organic message--that dreams can come true, that "we should never, ever be afraid of love." Observing humankind, Ruby says, "They're angry because they never take a moment to define their essence--art, music, nature, love." Starring Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Davies, James Urbaniak, Karen Black, Thomas Jay Ryan and Josh Kornbluth. Directed and written by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Produced by Lynn Hershman Leeson, Youssef Vahabzadeh, John Bradford King and Oscar Gubernati. A Skouras release. Sci fi. Not yet rated. Running time: 85 min

Tags: Starring Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Davies, James Urbaniak, Karen Black, Thomas Jay Ryan and Josh Kornbluth. Directed and written by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Produced by Lynn Hershman Leeson, Youssef Vahabzadeh, John Bradford King, Oscar Gubernati, Skouras, Sci fi
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