A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.

Director:

David Cronenberg
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Popularity
4,496 ( 460)
3 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Allegra Geller
Jude Law ... Ted Pikul
Ian Holm ... Kiri Vinokur
Willem Dafoe ... Gas
Don McKellar ... Yevgeny Nourish
Callum Keith Rennie ... Hugo Carlaw
Christopher Eccleston ... Seminar Leader
Sarah Polley ... Merle
Robert A. Silverman ... D'Arcy Nader
Oscar Hsu ... Chinese Waiter
Kris Lemche ... Noel Dichter
Vik Sahay ... Male Assistant
Kirsten Johnson ... Female Assistant
James Kirchner James Kirchner ... Landry
Balázs Koós Balázs Koós ... Male Volunteer
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Storyline

Allegra Geller, the leading game designer in the world, is testing her new virtual reality game, eXistenZ with a focus group. As they begin, she is attacked by a fanatic assassin employing a bizarre organic gun. She flees with a young marketing trainee, Ted Pikul, who is suddenly assigned as her bodyguard. Unfortunately, her pod, an organic gaming device that contains the only copy of the eXistenZ game program, is damaged. To inspect it, she talks Ted into accepting a gameport in his own body so he can play the game with her. The events leading up to this, and the resulting game lead the pair on a strange adventure where reality and their actions are impossible to determine from either their own or the game's perspective. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A game to live or to die for. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sci-fi violence and gore, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Cronenberg's first original screenplay since Videodrome (1983). See more »

Goofs

The first time we see Ted Pikul at the trout farm, he labels an envelope with the letters LA. The L is clearly connected to the A. However in the next shot with the envelope on the conveyor belt the L and A are no longer connected. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Seminar Leader: eXistenZ. Written like this. One word. Small 'E', capital 'X', capital 'Z'. 'eXistenZ'. It's new, it's from Antenna Research, and it's here... right now.
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User Reviews

 
an existential psychotropic trip
26 January 2004 | by peter_vangoethemSee all my reviews

David Cronenberg, much like colleague David Lynch, is an acquired taste. A director who plays with themes like reality, perversion, sex, insanity and death, is bound to get the most extreme reations from audiences. He proved this with films as The Fly, Naked Lunch, Crash and eXitenZ (capital X, capital Z) and more recently, Spider. It's best to see eXistenZ with a clear mind. Try not to read too much about the plot, or it'll be ruined for you. What I can tell you is that Cronenberg takes you on a trip down into the world of videogames that acts as a metaphor for any kind of escapist behaviour. Living out fantasies is something people always dream of, but how far can you go into it, before reality gets blurred and the fantasy takes over and turns into a nightmare? Those are the themes touched in eXistenZ, an exploration of identity, the human psyche, physical bodies being invaded by disease and most importantly, reality itself.

The story and directing are excellent. Cronenberg knows his trade very well and succesfully brings to life an artificial world, avoiding the usual pitfalls and clichés linked to stories such as this. The film shows some pretty disgusting stuff, but is unusually low-key in the gore department in comparison to Cronenbergs other work. The shock effects he plays on are never over the top and the plot progression is very intelligent and creative. It's not the most intellectual movie ever, but it will leave you thinking about it, wondering and pretty confused.

The acting gets two thumbs up as well. Both protagonists, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law, play their parts perfectly and cleverly portray their character's shifting moods and identities. The dialogue may seem a little stale and clinical at times, but that is part of the effect Cronenberg was going for, to create a disaffected and alien atmosphere that puts you quite at unease. Supporting actors as Ian Holm, Don McKellar and an especially creepy Willem Dafoe lift the movie even higher with their disturbingly familiar performances.

This movie takes some getting used to, but if you can appreciate the dark tone, blood-curdeling imagery and existentially warping story, you'll love it.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK | France | Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 April 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Existenz See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$810,262, 25 April 1999

Gross USA:

$2,856,712

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,856,712
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (workprint)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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