On the inclined plane – Kommersant Newspaper No. 87 (7288) dated 20/05/2022

Riley Stearns’ “Clone” was released on Russian lease. This film, which caused a stir at the Sundance Film Festival, reflects the phobias created by the pandemic, but even now, when the world agenda has changed, it seems, in his view Andrei Plachov, archaic.

Sarah, the main character of the film (Karen Gillan), lives a tidy, lonely, boring life. Her evenings end with a phone call to her friend Peter (Beulah Koale), who works somewhere on the sidelines: she says she has seen the series (actually a porn movie) and goes to bed (silent about the bottle she drank). When a stressed mother (Maya Paunio) calls, Sarah does not pick up the phone. She does not let her mother know about the terrible diagnosis that the doctors endure one fine day: the girl has a rare, completely incurable disease and her days are numbered.

The action takes place in the near future, where scientific and technological progress allows you to make dying clones so that the loss does not hurt your loved ones so much. Naturally and externally, the clones are indistinguishable from the originals, but you have to work on their internal content and this causes problems and overlaps. Sarah meets her copy, which is even better compared to her: she has the same beautiful breasts, but there is no cellulite and, in addition, blue eyes that all girls dream of. in the latter, however, the designers overdid it and promised the customer a five percent discount on the permitted freedoms.

The clone takes his own life, starting his own relationship with Sarah’s mother and boy. It turns out that both of them are much happier with the new Sarah – more perfect in all respects, including the character: she is social, friendly and practically flawless. The problem arises when the real Sarah, who is almost buried, miraculously recovers. She intends to deactivate her clone, but that did not happen: clones also have their rights, and the conflict can only be resolved in a public death duel. Only one will survive in it – either a clone or the original. Such fights using five types of weapons have already been put into practice, have formed their own rituals and are extremely popular with the public. So Sarah, who was sick at the sight of blood, had to master the culture of violence and take lessons from the martial artist Trent (Aaron Paul). Instead of porn movies, she now watches movies for unscrewed hands and her mentor gives her a lesson in courage, demanding that she shoot her old dog at a breathing distance (arguably the best scene in the movie).

One of the episodes mentions a small quarrel between a girl and her boyfriend about how they will spend the night: she wanted to watch a romantic comedy and he preferred a comedy, but black. The clone itself, with its slightly cynical humor, tends more towards the second genre, although it leaves a bit of emotional humanism in the finale. The film was directed by the modern director Riley Sterns, who for some reason is considered by American critics to be a fan of George Lanthimos. An unfortunate parallel: Lanthimos is charged with the energy of the ancient myth, Sterns does not go far and feeds on such melodramatic fantasies as the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman.

Sterns’ new film is full of pseudo-philosophical principles about the world to come, about the complex relationship between the original and the copy (in one case, they even managed to sleep with each other). All this is very likely to be assimilated, but such foods do not offer much pleasure. How fantastic “Clone” uploaded miserably? it has no provocative decor, or existential madness, that, for example, Pedro Almodovar had in the movie “The Skin I Live In”. Actress Karen Gillan, best known for her role as the shaved head, a blue-green Nebula alien warrior at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, tries hard to portray two different rival characters, but has extremely limited space to play. The very idea that a copy replaces the original is not so new that a film based on it turns into a pale copy of what has more than once been artistically incorporated by more talented people.

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