Too many flaws make "Facelift" a movie for only the most dedicated fans of the actors who star in it.
Somewhere between "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," this bizarre sci-fi musical has its moments, but overall they're not nearly enough to rescue it from obscurity.
In a futuristic society segregated into "names" and "numbers," names live in squalor and barter for what they need, watched over by vicious leather-clad "police," while numbers are a genetically manipulated breed who live in "the Centre" and spend their time in scientific exploration. The Centre is run by a computer called Bruce (voiced by John Le Mesurier), a character included in the movie merely to provide plot information to the viewers and act as deus ex machina.
When a pair of numbers, F-9895 (Eleanor David) and M-4327 (Steven Mann), travel outside the center to seek entertainment at _Zax's Theatre of Glamour and Magic_, the magician Zax (Martin Shaw) finds himself obsessed with F-9895. Despite the protests of his lover/assistant, Ina (Sue Jones Davies), Zax creates Veronica, a mechanical replica of F-9895. Veronica is intended merely as a sex toy and magician's assistant until Bob (Clarke Peters), a dancer in Zax's show who moonlights as a janitor at the Centre, discovers that the numbers are attempting isolate the human soul for scientific study--with F-9895 volunteering to have her soul extracted from her body. When Bob tells Zax about the experiment, the magician decides to capture F-9895's soul for Veronica.
The moral--it is not for mortals to meddle with the human soul--is a bit heavy-handed and the religious symbolism a bit overdone. Honestly, I think the plot deserves more than 90 minutes; this could be a fascinating story set within a fascinating society, if it was given the appropriate time to develop.
The musical score is very "1980s" and most of the lyrics are appalling the first time around, but somehow they grow on you with subsequent viewings. The dancing, however, remains amateurish, no matter how many times you rewatch it!
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