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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 08.03.12] Germany scifi thriller drama

The human body is a beautiful, complex machine full of unknown mysteries. For centuries doctors and scientists have been working to unravel them all but try as they may, many questions still remain unanswered. One would expect a movie that takes place within this world of research would be full of themes about god, power and corruption and though they're certainly present, Eron Sheean's feature film debut Errors of the Human Body, which he co-wrote with Shane Danielsen, is more interested in telling the story of one man.

Michael Eklund leads the cast as Geoff, a geneticist fighting through the loss of his son and the quick-to-follow end of his marriage. Both losses have taken a toll on his work which has come to a stand still so when given the opportunity to take on a research position in Dresden, he locks up his meagre lab and heads to Germany. There he finds Rebekka (Karoline Herfurth) a former student and old flame who is now a gifted scientist in her own right. It quickly becomes apparent Rebekka had a hand in Geoff's relocation and that she has a very personal reason of her own to do so; she's made a remarkable discovery of a gene she has called "Easter" (religious context most certainly intended) which has restorative capabilities but her research has stalled and she's hopeful that Geoff's insight might help her get back on track.

Rebekka proves to be Geoff's undoing. His interest in her research attracts the unsavoury attention of rival researchers and Geoff soon finds himself entrenched in a complicated web of deceit and makeshift basement offices where scientists racing to find a stable use for Easter conduct unsanctioned research. The pressures at the lab and the rekindled romantic relationship with Rebekka push Geoff to the breaking point and before long he's seething with paranoia and despair.

Errors of the Human Body sets a deeply personal story of a man in crisis, among the cold stark surroundings of both Dresden in winter and impersonal scientific labs. What Geoff needs is human interaction, someone to talk to about his suffering but what he finds is false hope. Rebekka appears to be his salvation but she takes advantage of Geoff's weakness. She's selfish and he's desperate and the mix of the two proves too much for Geoff who will go out of his way to help her, leading to his ultimate unravelling.

All of the performances are strong but none are as powerful as Eklund's. He dials down the hysterics on display in his breakthrough role in The Divide (review) and presents a man constantly at war with his personal demons. He's outwardly stoic but his shell is thin and the despair is often just beneath the surface, occasionally spilling out as a body tick.

The films' final twenty minutes are by far the most powerful, compounding into a devastating finale. With the finale of The Divide and the final act here, Sheean is proving that he knows the importance of lasting moments and he's ended both films with powerful scenes that aren't easily forgotten. Here the scene is played with such restraint that the profundity of it takes moments to sink in and when it does, it raises many more questions.

The major fault with Errors of the Human Body is the science which is surprisingly well explained but which remains just out of grasp. That's partially the point, the theme that these scientists are playing god certainly comes through, but at times ideas needed a little further simplification to help with the details of plot but it makes enough sense that the story doesn't lose credibility or come to a standstill.

Watching Geoff spiral out of control into self-hatred and depression is uncomfortable to watch but those willing to accept the challenge will find that Errors of the Human Body provides not just a good dramatic story but also poses a number of moral questions ripe for discussion.

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quietearth (10 years ago) Reply

I loved this flick and further, the pacing is almost immaculate.

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