Film Review – Self/Less
If you’re considering seeing Self/Less this week, I’d guess it’s either because you happened upon the trailer and are looking for a fun sci-fi romp or noticed Tarsem Singh directed and are looking for a fun sci-fi romp with a distinctive visual stamp. At the risk of reinforcing my reputation as the bearer of bad news, I’m here to tell you it’s neither. Self/Less is a disaster. And not the fun kind. Where are you when we need you, Wiseau?
Real estate billionaire Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley?!) is dying of cancer. His only living heir is a daughter who barely speaks to him because of his habit of speaking with his checkbook. He doesn’t understand her resentment. She doesn’t understand his obliviousness. End scene. And then another. While learning nothing about either.
Damian is tipped off by a colleague about a “shedding” process, allowing Damian’s mind and spirit to live on in a genetically-engineered body that happens to look like Van Wilder. For the one-time price of a quarter billion dollars, Damian can not only live on but live on as the embodiment of all that is holy if only Hollywood would give him a goddamn chance: Ryan Reynolds.
Without overtly spoiling this movie I encourage you to never see, you’re safe in assuming this “engineered” body is more than just a talking pile of leftover Mattel parts. Assuming the identity of one “Eddie Kidner” (Reynolds), Damian at first takes advantage of the situation by moving to New Orleans and sleeping with women more than half his actual age in a montage that goes on way too long only to tell us nothing interesting. The very PG-13 trysts are interrupted only to stress that “Kidner” suffers the occasional migraine headache resulting in flashbacks of memories not his own. His keepers, and masterminds behind the aforementioned shedding, provide medication to stave off these visions. Until he goes Rogue.
I have an obligation to tread lightly here but the next 45 minutes are devoted to Kidner (slash Damian) engaging in multiple dull-as-dirt shootouts while protecting the lives of a family that is not his own. Heroic? Maybe. Repetitive? Definitely.
Look guys, it’s easy to shit on a shitty movie. If I’m being honest, I sometimes elect to a review a movie I assume I’ll hate just for the sport of it. But I was legitimately excited for two reasons: 1) everyone loves a good body swap story 2) Tarsem Singh.
While I have reservations with both The Cell and The Fall, both left an indelible impression. Here, Singh not only seems to be phoning it in but that he forgot who he was calling in the first place. Despite the occasional flourish, there’s nothing worth grabbing onto here.
The acting is stilted across the board. Ben Kingsley gets ten minutes of screen time and appears to spend most of it deciding on his accent. And Reynolds? He’s no Kingsley.
You can do better than this, mid-summer offerings. We’re all counting on it.