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Possible Worlds (2000)

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

Director:

Robert Lepage

Writers:

John Mighton (play), John Mighton (screenplay)
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3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tilda Swinton ... Joyce
Tom McCamus ... George Barber
Sean McCann Sean McCann ... Inspector Berkley
Gabriel Gascon Gabriel Gascon ... Kleber / Doctor
Rick Miller Rick Miller ... Williams
Griffith Brewer Griffith Brewer ... Caretaker
Daniel Brooks Daniel Brooks ... Bob
Steve Adams ... First Interviewer
Russell Yuen ... Police Officer
Mariah Inger Mariah Inger ... Johnson
Laurent Imbault Laurent Imbault ... Darkroom Technician
Lisa Bronwyn Moore Lisa Bronwyn Moore ... Second Interviewer
Eric Hoziel ... Axxon Security
Simon Lee Simon Lee ... No-Nose Man
Clément Cormier Clément Cormier ... Housekeeper
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Storyline

George and Joyce lead parallel lives in alternate worlds. In each of those lives, George embarks on a relationship with Joyce, sometimes more successfully than others. George also becomes increasingly aware of his alternate lives, not only of Joyce in each of them, but what he carries of himself between each of those lives. In one of those lives, he is the most recent homicide victim in a rash of B&E's. In his case, he is the first victim where nothing of monetary value has been stolen, but only his brain removed from his skull and taken from the crime scene. The lead police investigators, Inspector Berkley and Detective Williams, although sometimes at odds with each other, eventually come to the conclusion that the murder has something to do with brain research, and that George may have been targeted rather than a random victim. In addition to Berkley and Williams' investigation and discovering the identity of the murderer, the alternate question becomes how this situation fits in ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Mystery | Sci-Fi | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 July 2001 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Lehetséges világok See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first English-language movie for Quebec director Robert Lepage. See more »

Goofs

When George and Joyce are talking outside the beach house, the shutters on the windows are closed, but when they jump down on the grass, they are open. See more »

Quotes

Inspector Berkley: Doctor Kleber says that he was never able to get anything but rudimentary consciousness going.
Inspector Berkley: There is a light that flashes occasionally, but we don't know what it means.
Inspector Berkley: Your husband probably isn't aware of who he is.
Inspector Berkley: Kleber described it as kind of a fluctuating dream state.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the best philosophy films ever made...

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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