Clone (Matt Smith) on DVD

“Clone” (aka “Womb”) is a brooding, psychological drama-romance starring current Doctor Who Matt Smith and Eva Green of “Casino Royale” fame. As the title suggests, the movie deals with some of the thorny social issues surrounding human cloning. Rebecca and Thomas meet as nine-year-olds and immediately strike up a close relationship, only to be separated when her mum gets a job in Tokyo. Flash forwards twelve years and Rebecca returns, keen to pick up where they left off.

Disaster strikes soon after when Thomas is killed in a tragic accident. In this slightly different reality, human cloning is legal and, unable to cope with the loss of her lover, Rebecca goes against his mother’s wishes and is impregnated with Thomas’ cells. As her son grows into the young man she used to know, the line between motherly love and more romantic affection becomes blurred, and it is only a matter of time before Thomas learns the truth about his lineage.

Clone - Matt Smith vehicle on DVD & Blu-raySet on an unspecified, remote North European coastline, “Clone” is a starkly beautiful film. Shot in Germany, it captures a similar atmosphere to “Gattaca”, conjuring up the same strange clash between hostile sterility and undisturbed naturalness. The local population is sparsely placed, making it a perfect location for a mother to keep her shocking secret close to her chest.

Although it runs for almost two hours, the film is fairly light on dialogue. Hungarian director Benedek Fliegauf prefers to let the silence do the talking, and the acting is good enough to convey meaning in facial expressions and body language. The silence also allows the audience to mull the issues over at the same time as the characters rather than being overly judgemental.

The acting is uniformly good and there is good chemistry between all generations of Rebecca and Thomas. It is a credit to Matt Smith that he manages to subtly change Thomas’ personality and bearing in his second incarnation, leading us to consider the whole ‘nature versus nurture’ debate. Rebecca brings him back from the dead without considering whether this new version of Thomas will automatically grow into the same person or not.

The movie makes it clear that whilst human cloning is legal in this world, it is by no means universally accepted. “Copies” are treated by many as outcasts, children are encouraged not to mix with them and vindictive rumours are spread about how they smell. Disturbing considerations about incest naturally come to the fore given the plot of the film, but the path it takes tries not to preach one way or the other but rather show one possible story with one possible outcome. To its credit, the movie tries to be as open-handed as possible.

Minor criticisms of the film would be firstly that it does start to drag in the final quarter, and although the slow and thoughtful approach generally works well it could do with being made slightly punchier at the end, as things come to a head. Secondly, Eva Green does not appear to age at all, making it slightly unclear whether clones age faster than ‘normal’ humans or simply that she is gifted with exceptional skin and a permanently youthful look! Thomas’ original mother (excellently played by Lesley Manville – Cranford and several of Mike Leigh’s pictures) does appear to age properly, so I believe it is the latter.

The DVD and Blu-ray include a 22-minute making of which falls into the annoying trap of including too much footage from the film and not quite enough behind-the-scenes material. There are some short interviews with the cast and crew, and the director in particular does a decent job of explaining his mission. A trailer is also included. The DVD version reviewed has impressively detailed picture quality, finely complementing the stunning vistas.

“Clone” (2010) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Arrow Films. The main feature has a running time of 111 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £12.99 on DVD and £14.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

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