Friday, June 18, 2010

Splice (2010)

Without a doubt, Splice is a film that is likely to divide the public. However, we can all agree that Vincenzo Natali's latest film is rather entertaining and that the cast does a great job.
Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) and Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) are two married genetic engineers who work for a pharmaceutical company. Their the task is to develop a medical protein by using a mix of animal genes from various species. In the process, Elsa adds human DNA despite their boss's (David Hewlett) warning against human cloning. As a result of that, a new organism comes to life. Clive wanted to kill that creature, but Elsa convinces him that it's worth keeping that creature alive in order to study it. As she grows quickly, the creature - which will be called Dren by Elsa - becomes a deformed female infant (Abigail Chu).

Afterwards, she ends up being more or less a human female (Delphine Chanéac) who has the characteristics of many animals. In fact, Dren is an amphibian, has deployable wings and a retractable stinger in her tail. Because they don't want Dren to be exposed to the public, Elsa and Clive bring Dren to the farm of Elsa's dead mother. Moreover, they lock Dren in the barn and often come to see her. At the first look, Dren exceeds the couple's expectations. For instance, although she can't talk, Dren manages to communicate by forming specific words with Scrabble tiles. However, as time goes by, Dren becomes extremely savage because she desperately wants to go outside.

In Splice, Natali clearly unleashed his imagination and wonders what's the worse that could happen if human DNA was combined with animal genes. However, while the film doesn't take a stance on our desire to play God, it rather plays the entertainment card you'd expect from a blockbuster. As a result of that, we get a reversed - and a little bit predictable - Frankenstein because Dren is fairly good looking and she doesn't have any contact with the society. Furthermore, we get to see Elsa and Clive experience the joy and, eventually, the difficulty inherent in parenting a creature that hasn't lost the savage facet of her nature.

However, the true magic of the film is the three leading actors' ability to have their thespian skills in sync with Splice's entertainment factor. In fact, as two scientists who ends up becoming psychologically damaged, Sarah Polley and Adrian Brody are believable when their respective character becomes frightened by Dren. However, the tour de force definitely comes from Delphine Chanéac. As a non-talking character, Chanéac does an incredible job with her facial expressions that give life to Dren.

In short, Splice doesn't really stand out because of how Vincenzo Natali directed it with simplicity. However, even though the ending might put a grin on your face, Splice is blessed to have a decent script that you'd expect from a summer blockbuster (a Canadian one in this case). Moreover, Splice will definitely make you feel uncomfortable if you think of all the dangerous things that has been done in science in the last 70 years.

Rating: 3.5/5

Origin:Canada/France/USA (2010)
Length:104 minutes
Screenplay:Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant and Doug Taylor
Director:Vincenzo Natali
Starring:Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac, Brandon McGibbon, Simona Maicanescu, David Hewlett and Abigail Chu

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