Published Sep 26, 2010Already strikingly similar to Jonathan Glazer's Birth, which sounded queasy enough in 2004, Hungarian director Benedek Fliegauf raises uncomfortable questions of cloning and incest in Womb (his first English-language feature), but fails to do pretty much anything with them.
Ostensibly set in the German North Sea, even though the actors all possess British accents, a young boy and girl meet and fall in love. The girl leaves for Japan, returns many years later and immediately resumes the tepid love affair. The goofy lad is now an eco-activist who is struck and killed by a truck, but Rebecca is presented with the opportunity to become impregnated with his clone.
Obviously there's no way this will work out for any character involved, but shockingly, Fliegauf manages to barely create any drama. Characters are given no motive for their actions, leaving them to glower and simmer over nothing. The moral of the film? Giving birth to your dead lover may cause complications for the love life of your teenage "son"?
Do not go into this picture expecting tension or resolution, but rather lots of glowering over exquisitely shot scenes of European seasides completely wasted. Characters wander in and out of the picture without explanation or validation, and even Max Richter's score fails to highlight anything beyond how loud his toy piano sounds are recorded.
Womb is being touted as "science fiction without the science," but it's also lacking the wonder, drama and excitement. Fliegauf paces his scenes like glaciers, but the approach is far too icy to allow viewers to warm to the characters' predicament. This is especially disappointing considering the cultural relevance of cloning and the human desire to keep our loved ones with us, even past the point of expiration. (Razor)