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You will know in the first ten minutes if this film is for you or not.
Possible Worlds explores themes of the mind in a science-fiction
setting. A man seems all knowing at the start of the film, and
impresses his interviewers by quickly calculating the solution to
several complex problems posed to him, all without a calculator. Later
we find out he is not super intelligent, but retains memories from all
his other selves in parallel universes. I suppose at least one of his
alternate selves must have gone through the interview already, so he
just pulls on that memory.
He also explores a relationship with the same woman, who is strikingly different in each of the parallel worlds. In one, she is loving and compassionate, in another scattered and distant. The story is never showy, gimmicky, or clichéd, unlike what we have come to expect from Hollywood.
Visually, there are not many films better than this. Each scene is so beautiful it's almost as though every inch of the scene was meticulously composed by hand. Some scenes lingered without dialogue, and I wanted them to stay longer just so I could appreciate the scene more. The film leaves a definite mood long after the credits end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's one of those extremely rare highly intelligent and original
movies. Visually excellent to a fault, but it's the story that
dominates. It doesn't take very long for the movie to get quite
complicated; it's a complex movie that requires a lot of thought,
speculation and guessing - and that's part of the fun with movies like
these. And when it seems that no ending in the world could possibly
make everything previous add up - it does. The ending connects
everything neatly. (That is, if you "get" it.) Plus, the script is
"fair" and gives the viewer clues as to what is really going on with
the main character. The film makes so much sense on so many levels.
There are many interesting ideas presented; one could analyze this
movie and the ideas it presents for hours.
The last scene of the movie will confuse some people but is actually rather simple: the main character is dreaming his last dream - of sitting on the beach with his wife, watching the ocean - and when a light appears on the horizon that light is the man's brain giving a signal on the machine that is keeping his brain alive. And when the light extinguishes, the man says "thank God", commenting on his own death; he is relieved that his bizarre existence is finally coming to an end. It is coming to an end because his wife decided to let the machine be switched off so that the brain can finally cease to live.
The film is probably the best in a series of excellent movies that came out around the late 90s, and that deal with reality: "eXistenZ", "Dark City", the Spanish "Open Your Eyes", "The 13th Floor" (1999), "Fight Club" and "Eyes Wide Shut". Time will make classics out of all of them.
This is one of the best movies I have seen in years, and certainly one of the most thought-provoking. If you're looking for something other than the usual overrated, pointless, and dull Oscar-winning trash, check this one out. Good soundtrack.
This film while being a low budget indy work stinks of quality. Some of the camera shots feel like paintings presented within the story. Light and colour are very well used. The story well... check it out. It may force you to watch it twice but it's worth it. I run a small film watching group for eight or nine friends, we watch a film selected by different member each week with no vetos, this gives us an eclectic mix of movies. Of course it is becoming a point of pride to please and impress the group with your choice. Possible worlds has been one of the best finds from the group and I am very grateful to have been shown it. Thanks Ben
A stunning film. Thought-provoking, funny and engaging. The opening credits pulled me and I was left breathless at the end. The cinematography is amazing, and works extremely well with the plot. Some plot summaries have made the storyline sound like Sliding Doors, but it is a wholly different movie. Possible Worlds deals with several issues (the main one being alternate lives) and has many sub-plots, all of which fall together wonderfully. Go for the eye-candy, the philisophical dialouge, the acting, the directing or the plot--but see it!
Possible Worlds played yesterday at the Vancouver International Film
Festival to a packed theatre. From the opening credits onward, I was
completely absorbed in this film. Possible Worlds moves between being
shocking, romantic, eerie, and funny. And not only is this film very
entertaining, it also gets you thinking about some pretty weighty ideas -
like what it means to live, and the infinite possibilities of life. If you
love movies that make you think while they entertain you, go see this
Tom McCamus gives his best performance to date. And Tilda Swinton is perfect in the role of Joyce - her best since 'Orlando'!
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
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.
Very interesting.Thought provoking.Surprising. Philosopical mystery, that touches the very essence of our existence: "I think and therefore I exist". The brain/mind is everything, and all the world that we "sense" is created inside it by stimuli that may be of false origins.
This is a beautiful film with a plot that keeps you thinking and
guessing. It handles very big issues concerning the human soul,
existence and the mind.
The movie is filmed very nicely. The cinematography is great, like every single scene has been thoroughly thought through. The movie it self has an easy going nature. You simply enjoy watching it as you at the same time wonder about the big questions rising in your mind.
The actors are wonderful and captivating. Especially Tilda Swinton dominates the screen with bright red hair and piercingly black eyes. Tom McCamus is very good too. When you add a phenomenal soundtrack to the equation you get a ravishing experience all together.
Here is a film that will give food for thought and will also do it gently, at the same time caressing your eyes and ears with beautiful cinema and music.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Possible Worlds (2000): Dir: Robert Lepage / Cast: Tom McCamus, Tilda Swinton, Sean McCann, Gabriel Gascon, Steve Adams: Bizarre and intelligent thriller that applies philosophy in its dialogue. In regards reality both in mind and present. It opens with a murder victim discovered whose brains have been removed. Then we are introduced to an individual who lives several parallel lives at once. It regards how we sometimes fantasize about being someone else and Tom McCamus leads several lives that are only his through the minds of others. Tilda Swinton plays a professor who becomes many things to him. Although the ending leaves more questions than answers director Robert Lepage details the film with interesting theories. McCamus is in top form as an individual trying to figure out the bizarre. Swinton is splendid as a woman of many meanings depending upon how McCamus sees her. It is a strange relationship boarding on disappointment and the mere acceptance of specific memories. Sean McCann plays an investigator who arrives on the scene of a murder. Gabriel Gascon plays a doctor who factors into this in a key role. Steve Adams plays an interviewer who will get to get the scoop on this whole premise first hand. Beautifully realized independent film with stunning images and theories. Fascinating film about reality, fantasy and time. Score: 8 / 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie is fine, well acted, directed and with an interesting script.
Interesting does not mean funny: this is why I gave it only a seven.
Author should have been a bit more ironical. Not converting the movie
in a comedy, of course. Just a little lighter.
During a dream I experienced the same sensation of "knowing everything" the main character refers to. In stimuli deprivation our brain will create fantasy worlds for us. It creates delusional worlds similar to dreams or to psychedelic drugs effects.
My personal opinion is that our "selves" cannot be disconnected by our bodies: we don't live into our minds. When someone looses his self, we say he is reduced to a vegetable. He is no longer alive. In a similar way the mind alone cannot be considered alive: it would create chaotic thoughts and the brain would also create fake sensory responses in a kind of limbo.
That's why the movie is too "still". With the premise of a brain without a body, fantasies should have been much more weird and hard to understand. Anybody can try to experience something like that. Just find a quiet place, no noise, no one can disturb. Make sure you can be at least an hour with your eyes closed and covered by a mask or something. To cover ambient sounds take a radio and tune it where there is no station or search on line for white noise generator. Temperature should be constant and comfortable.
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