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Possible Worlds [Mondes Possibles] (2000)

Cast: Tilda Swinton, Tom McCamus, Sean McCann, more...
Director: Robert Lepage
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Fantasy
Running Time: 92 min.
Languages: English, French

A man moves across space and time to do the right thing for the woman he loves in this sci-fi-tinged fantasy thriller. George (Tom McCamus) is a man who possesses an unusual level of awareness -- he not only understands that people exist in parallel worlds at once, but also is able to experience several of his alternate lives at once, even remembering what happened on one plane of existence while functioning in another. This is as much of a curse as a blessing for George; his wife Joyce (Tilda Swinton) was murdered in one life, and he finds himself thrown from one life to another, in which he encounters Joyce's other lives while he searches for her killer. As we're introduced to George, he's been murdered and his brain has been removed from his body; Berkley (Sean McCann), a veteran police detective, is assigned to investigate the killing with his less experienced partner, Williams (Rick Miller). Berkley and Williams are eventually led to a laboratory run by an eccentric scientist who performs odd experiments on animal brains and studies the effects of sensory deprivation. Meanwhile, George still lives in another parallel world, where he meets Joyce again -- not once, but twice. Possible Worlds was based on the play by John Mighton, who also wrote the film's screenplay. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Like a calm, still pool (spoilers) by brakhage May 13, 2005 - 7:45 AM PDT
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful
Slow-paced and deliberate, with some very imaginative visual flourishes from Lepage. I was initally put off by the stiltedness of Swinton and McCann's performances, but I realized that they suited the material perfectly. Very nice photography aside from overreliance on polarizing filters (I'd never seen the sea made to look like Mountain Dew before). Very brainy, cool, and clever. The running gag about the well-meaning lieutenant's thickness is really funny as well. It doesn't feel like an adaptation of a stage play - there are too many locations, and the dialogue while being the impetus for the film, isn't overwhelming in its density.

Spoilers: initially the audience is expecting a Lathe of Heaven-style meditation on parallel universes, and when it's revealed to be more of a Open Your Eyes/Vanilla Sky brain-in-a-jar thing, I was disappointed - but only briefly since there's so much subtlety to ponder and appreciate about the film. Lepage doesn't beat you over the head: when George studies the glass bowl at Joyce's apartment, he's of course wondering how it came to be there, since it should really reside in another universe. Lepage knows we're quick enough to pick up on it, and doesn't slip in a cut to the bowl's introduction earlier.

This is one of those quiet films that stay with you for a long time, that leads you to think about your identity, your future, your decisions. Unlike the films I've mentioned above, it introduces the idea of parallel universes and isolated consciousness not as the means to drive a thriller or create a shocking twist ending, but to make you think. I could also stare into Swinton's eyes forever, so that's a bonus!

With respect to Mr Deming, I detected absolutely no plot thread dealing with Joyce's murder. As far as I can tell she was never a target, but I may have missed something.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.41)
17 Votes
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Movies that I've seen that have a twist. T-ratings are my ratings of the twist, *not the movie* (1-eh, 5-amazing!)

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