In the not too distant future, a very smoggy and overpopulated Earth government makes it illegal to have children for a generation. One couple, unsatisfied with their substitute robot baby,...
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In the not too distant future, a very smoggy and overpopulated Earth government makes it illegal to have children for a generation. One couple, unsatisfied with their substitute robot baby, breaks the rules and gets in a lot of trouble. (Z.P.G. stands for Zero Population Growth.) Written by
Matt Carlin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the future, overpopulation has become such an issue that those in authority take some pretty drastic steps. Any couple that refuses to get with the program and stop having kids will be punished with public execution. Instead, people have to make do with dolls that prove to be highly inadequate replacement for flesh & blood children. Russ and Carol McNeil (Oliver Reed and Geraldine Chaplin) decide to defy the law and do their best to raise a child in secret. Of course, it's only a matter of time before they're found out. Their neighbours & friends the Bordens (Don Gordon and Diane Cilento) learn their secret and their desire to be a part of this child's life only serves to permanently scar the friendship. While obviously done on a low budget, this is dealt with fairly successfully by having the outside world in this future be overcome by smog, forcing people to often wear masks. This gives this modest, reasonably entertaining production a certain degree of atmosphere. However, the film is never quite as involving as one would like. It's a little too slow and a little too static. It does succeed at being somewhat disturbing at times: first, whenever the authorities bring around their special killing domes, and second, where Russ goes to the library to learn what he can about premature birth, raising the suspicions of those in charge and leading to his being tortured. Filmed on location in Denmark, "Z.P.G." gets by mostly on the performances of its four principal actors. Reed is commanding with his typical whispery delivery, and Chaplin is endearing as the young woman wanting a human child more than anything. The lovely Cilento and the under-rated Gordon are equally fine as the envious friends. There is a somber quality to the whole thing yet by the conclusion it does create a sense of hope and peace. With a bit more style and energy, this really could have been good. As it is, it's good if not great and it does have a place in genre films of the time that dealt with the idea of dystopian futures, and does take an appreciable satiric approach to human existence circa 1972. Six out of 10.
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