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Bob Doto [Film Festival 06.26.09] movie review scifi

Year: 2009
Directors: Kanji Nakajima
Writers: Kiyoshi Inoue
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Bob Doto
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

THE CLONE RETURNS HOME is a measured take on a complex subject: the self and its identity in the world. This isn’t, however, a film about race, class, or sexuality (although of course all the above can be read into any narrative), but rather TCRH is a film about twins, clones, and the memories of the dead, and how the enormity of all that, becomes one.

When we think of a film dealing with clones, it seems natural to expect that film to also deal with technology and space. Outer space. Clones are of course the marker of all things futuristic, along with flying cars and bots that clean your house. Although TCRH does involve space (lead character, Kohei, played by Mitsuhiro Oikawa is an astronaut after all) TCRH handles the subject of techno-futurism with a quiet and almost rural sensibility.

TCRH begins (via flashback) of a single mother caring for her two twin toddler sons who goof around and play tricks on one another. They’re good kids. lovable, even if pressing up against mom’s boundaries. Kid’s stuff. The family, while suggesting an unspoken tension due to an absent father, is a loving one that lives in an almost idyllic setting of misty back yards and babbling brooks. Tragedy eventually leaves the family fractured, and the two sons become one son. Flash forward to the remaining son, now a husband, who dies (in a barely dealt with and unfortunate way) while in space working on a space station, only to be reborn as a replica (memory and all) of his former self. Can his wife accept him? That’s not really the question.

The twists in this film are less plot-centered and more thematic. What we come to realize is that while this films seemed to be about the politics and potential barbarity of cloning, turns out to be about memory. Yes, the very nature of the subject will inherently lead to discussions of ethics, but what this film really asks is: What does one do with one’s memories? Where do they go? And, if God forbid, we are brought back to life, how will we re-compartmentalize all those horrible memories we worked so hard sweeping under the rug? Didn’t we go through all that therapy for a reason?

I was excited to see this film having been reinvigorated by the handling of Duncan Jones' MOON, and I am pleased to say that I was not let down. THE CLONE RETURNS HOME is a beautiful piece of science faction that honors both the temperament of Ki-duk Kim’s SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER…AND SPRING, along with the surreality of Cronenberg’s NAKED LUNCH (only insanely more subtle).

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Andrew James (13 years ago) Reply

Wow. I hadn't heard of this film before but it sounds great. With comparisons to Spring Summer... and Naked Lunch, color me super intrigued. One thing though, how does this compare with Duncan Jones' "Moon" starring Sam Rockwell? It sounds like a very similar premise.


Dan Sachar (13 years ago) Reply

Sounds great

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