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Possible Worlds (2000)

 -  Mystery | Sci-Fi | Crime  -  13 July 2001 (UK)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,395 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 12 critic

A man lives in parallel worlds, falling in love with the same woman, while the police hunt down a serial killer who steals brains.

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Title: Possible Worlds (2000)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Joyce
Tom McCamus ...
George Barber
Sean McCann ...
Inspector Berkley
Gabriel Gascon ...
Kleber / Doctor
Griffith Brewer ...
Caretaker
Daniel Brooks ...
Bob
...
Interviewer
...
Police Officer
Mariah Inger ...
Johnson
Laurent Imbault ...
Darkroom Technician
Lisa Bronwyn Moore ...
Jocelyn
Eric Hoziel ...
Axxon Security
Simon Lee ...
No-Nose Man
Clément Cormier ...
Housekeeper
Sylvie Rousseau ...
Housekeeper's wife
Edit

Storyline

A man lives in parallel worlds, falling in love with the same woman, while the police hunt down a serial killer who steals brains.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Mystery | Sci-Fi | Crime | Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

13 July 2001 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Lehetséges világok  »

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Did You Know?

Goofs

At the beginning, when the police are examining George's brainless body, it can be seen to be breathing. See more »

Quotes

George Barber: Well i could hardly say I have a memory Doctor.
Kleber: Why not?
George Barber: Well it would be more accurate to say that... in the collection of people that I call me, a memory occurs
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the best philosophy films ever made...
15 May 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Possible Worlds is a low budget independent film by French director Robert Lepage, it is a surreal murder mystery which appears to have been made primarily to explore several different philosophical notions. It begins with two detectives arriving at the scene of a crime, the victim George Barber (Tom McCamus) has been murdered and his brain removed from his body. We then meet George Barber, alive and well. Since he was a boy, it turns out, George has had the ability to switch between different Possible Worlds at will. The love of his life is played by Tilda Swinton and we follow George in several different worlds meet the different versions of her and try to woo them all. In one world she is a shy scientist, in another she is a confident business woman. What makes these very different women the same person? Well, thats partially what the film is about. Simultaniously we follow the detectives as they hunt down George's missing brain and meet a mad scientist who experiments with extracted animal brains (Gabriel Gascon).

The 'Possible Worlds' from which this film takes its name is a concept of contemporary philosophy, it is a method of discussing the nature of possibility and necessity. Instead of saying "I might have gone to the shops", one says "there is a possible world in which I went to the shops". This allows for greater clarity of discussion about the nature of possibility. One of the more eccentric lines of thought in philosophy is idea that Possible Worlds actually exist (technically they only possibly exist, but every possibility is an actuality for that possibility... yes, this is the simplified way of discussing it!). The concept is very similar to the quantum mechanics notion of multiple/parallel dimensions, as explored in a great deal of science fiction, and is the central premise of this film.

The film can be best described as a cross between Darren Arranofsky's Pi and the cult sci-fi Primer. In places it is distinctly Lynchian, such as this dream sequence (which is the only part of the film available on youtube, there isn't even a trailer) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7odlad7TOc Although the film isn't particularly complex (and it isn't as deliberately convoluted as Primer which, although enjoyable, tries too hard to make its dialogue impenetrable) following George through the various worlds and tying the different plot strands together does require the audience to concentrate.

For a student of modern philosophy or a person fairly well read in the subject, this film will be highly enjoyable. While it contains slightly heavy handed brain-in-a-vat allusions, the film primarily focuses on discussions of identity and possibility. Many different ideas are brought in regarding the nature of consciousness, evolutionary development of the mind, and physical embodiment and the film makes no attempt to give simple or easy answers to these. However, for somebody not read in such areas, the film is likely to be frustratingly dull and pointless. The film does not try to overly explain or reduce these notions: such an attempt would be pointless anyway, it is dealing with some of the most difficult material ever written, 5 minutes of exposition isn't going to benefit anyone. But all of the films dialogue is very clear and simple and it never throws in unnecessary technical terms (like Primer) or tries to fool its audience. In spite of this, I do fear its subject matter will alienate many viewers.

This dichotomy is perhaps best seen in the film's ending (which I wont reveal here). The film has a sad, melancholic ending, in which the story's plots come together and the characters journeys receive closure. This is good, and it does mean even somebody unfamiliar with the concepts it is exploring can still enjoy the film. But at the same time, it could appear to be wrapping up profound questions with an overly simplistic conclusion. The ending of the film is good, but I think to truly appreciate the film is to realise that (as with many great films) its conclusion is in fact the least important aspect of it.

Possible Worlds is an excellent film with a very niche audience; it is to philosophy as Primer is to science. It contains enough surreal imagery and dark, dry humour for any audience member to enjoy, and I should of course point out that reading philosophy is by no means necessary for somebody to understand or engage with philosophical concepts, any more than one needs to be an art scholar to enjoy good art. But its target audience, as the name suggests, is those who are directly familiar with the material that this film is exploring, and if you are a fan of David Lewis, Wittgenstein, Kant or Descartes then this film really is essential viewing.


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