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eXistenZ (1999)

Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, more...
Director: David Cronenberg
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Dimension
Genre: Foreign, Science Fiction , UK, Cyberpunk
Running Time: 97 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
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Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, who has long been fascinated by the ways new technology shapes and manipulates the human beings who believe they are its masters, is in familiar territory with eXistenZ, a futuristic thriller which combines elements of science fiction, horror and action-adventure. What is eXistenZ? According to the glossary Cronenberg put together for this film, it is a new organic game system that, when downloaded into humans, accesses their central nervous system, transporting them on a wild ride in and out of reality. What's more, it changes every time it is played, by adapting to the individual user -- you have to play the game to find out why you are playing the game. More than one person can plug into the same game and set out on a series of bizarre and surrealistic adventures together. The narrative takes place sometime in the near future, when game designers are worshipped as superstars and players can organically enter inside the games. Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the goddess among computer game designers whose latest invention, 'eXistenZ,' taps deeply into its users' fears and desires by blurring the boundaries between reality and escapism, is subject to an assassination attempt and forced to flee. Her sole ally is Ted Pikul (Jude Law), a novice security guard sworn to protect her. Persuading Ted to play the game, Allegra draws them both into a phantasmagoric world where existence ends and eXistenZ begins. Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is supposedly something of a computer nerd in real life, is hip and sexily alluring as Allegra Geller. When she and Pikul make love and are transported to the bizarre setting of a trout farm which has been converted to an assembly line production plant for games, they delve deeper into the dangerously intriguing game. Soon the forces of Anti-eXistenZialism will close in on Pikul and Allegra. eXistenZ marks the first time since Videodrome that Cronenberg has written a completely original screenplay. eXistenZ was inspired by the tribulations of the fugitive writer Salman Rushdie, author of the Satanic Verses. After interviewing the author for a magazine article in 1995, Cronenberg was struck with the idea of an artist who suddenly finds himself on a hit list for religious or philosophical reasons and is forced to go into hiding. The idea of a game came later on, for which he created a new vocabulary. According to Cronenberg, eXistenZ thematically connects to Crash, Videodrome, Naked Lunch and even M. Butterfly in terms of exploring the extent to which we create our own levels of reality and the idea of a creative act being dangerous to the creator. This is the second film on which Alliance Atlantis has been associated with Cronenberg, after Crash, which won the Special Jury Prize at the 1996 International Cannes Film Festival. On the occasion of the presentation of eXistenZ, Cronenberg received a Silver Bear for his outstanding artistic achievements at the 49th International Berlin Film Festival in 1999. ~ Gönül Dönmez-Colin, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Religious similitude: lost from reality by jameson October 6, 2006 - 7:20 AM PDT
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
This DVD's final minute can be philosophised as follows:
Presumptions not reflecting reality lead to confusion about reality.
In the DVD, the game players became unsure whether their actions were fanciful or were actually causing mahem.
Voltaire said essentially,
"People who can convince you to believe the absurd
can convince you to commit atrocities."

While Jennifer Leigh's performance seemed weak,
the occasional weird gadgetry and odd scenarios
captivated me. This is one of the top 15 films I've seen, largely because of my predisposition for it.

My daughter rented the anime Ghost in the Shell (1996)
[not later versions],
in which she considered the philosophical statements distracting, although captivating for me; eg,
"If you try to retain yourself, you limit yourself."

sHalloW and pRedictablE by yulek April 3, 2003 - 2:38 AM PST
6 out of 26 members found this review helpful
yet another reason for me to dislike the unbelievably untalented Leigh (her awful portrayal of Dorothy Parker almost made me dislike Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle). how the hell does this woman keep getting parts!?

she's totally dry and has never played a part differently regardless of the variety of roles she's been given. JJL is the female version of Tom Cruise. how's THAT for an insult!

Law was a much more enjoyable character, and no, not just because of his part, but because he actually looked like he was working (i mean, you know, acting)

eXistenZ itself was a big ass disappointment. it's just another Total Recall with Cronenberg's gooey stuff thrown in. virtual reality has been beaten to death in cinema already, so i expected Cronenberg would come up with something really new, some totally new and sick and twisted horror.

he didn't. eXistenZ is like 90% of actual computer games out there. shallow, stupid, totally predictable; designed for people who don't want to think. was that the real twist Cronenberg was trying to achieve? doubt it.

was there anything good about this film? the gun was cool (i don't want to spoil it if you're going to see it). ummm, lets see, what else. william defoe got to do his little crazy smile bit. and umm... the opening credits were pretty cool. that's about it.

even Howard Shore's score was repetative, lacking thematic elements, and totally disconnected from the plot.

cronenberg should stick to directing and leave the writing to others. the films of his that i've really liked were Dead Ringers (true story), The Fly (remake of a sci-fi classic), Crash (J.G.Ballard), Dead Zone (Stephen King), and of course Naked Lunch (WSB). i realize that Videodrome and Scanners have a cult following but i thought those movies sucked too.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.59)
610 Votes
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