Berkeley record store clerk Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) begins to experience strange visions from an entity he calls VALIS that cause him to uproot his family and move to Los Angeles where...
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Berkeley record store clerk Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) begins to experience strange visions from an entity he calls VALIS that cause him to uproot his family and move to Los Angeles where he becomes a successful music company executive. With the help of best friend, science fiction writer Philip K. Dick himself (Shea Whigam) and a mysterious woman named Silvia (Alanis Morissette), Nick finds himself drawn into a dangerous political-mystical conspiracy of cosmic proportions. The story is set in an alternate reality America circa 1985 under the authoritarian control of President Fremont, a Nixon-like clone (Scott Wilson).Written by
Radio Free LLC
Early in the film, PKD tells his buddy that he just finished his new novel and it will be published in hardcover (a nice change, since his early SF were all published by cheap paperback houses), then in reply to the question of it's subject he says, it's a what if the Germans won WWll premise. He's obviously referencing PKD's arguably most successful novel (it won the Hugo) published in 1963. The film is set in 1985, but since Dick was dead for three years already in this universe, maybe it was an intentional distortion. See more »
Radio Free Albemuth is a very authentic look into the mind of Philip K. Dick. The mood is sombre and reflective - even noir - and the story has clear Orwellian overtones. The story and character development is strong. The movie is full of echoes of his work, including other movie portrayals of his books - the darkness of Blade Runner emerges as the story unfolds.
I was also intrigued by the parallel with Total Recall: Rachel echoes Lori, and Sylvia recalls Melina. (Dare I also mention the similarity between Katheryn Winnick and Sharon Stone?) There is a world to be saved, but the saviors are flawed or compromised - or are remote in time or space.
Although set in an alternative world of the 1970s, this is a movie for our time, reflecting today's politics. But in typical Dick tradition, there is more than one way to view it. There are the usual Dickian motifs here - which is the reality, and which is the illusion?
The making of this movie was definitely a labor of love, and the attention to detail shines through. It is a fitting tribute to Dick, including the thoughtful and measured portrayal of the man himself by Shea Whigham.
It's not space opera - but then Dick was never a space opera author. Expect to be intrigued, and possibly challenged.
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