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Another End

Gael Garcia Bernal and Renate Reinsve star in this extremely lame and predictable sci-fi from Italy - from the Official Competition of the 74th Berlin International Film Festival

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Mind-swapping is barely an innovative topic. In fact it’s almost as old as cinema. The first Frankenstein movie, in which the monster was given the brain of a dead man, was directed 114 years ago by J. Searle Dawley. Hal Roach made the satirical body-swapping drama Turnabout in 1940. More recently, Iain Softley’s The Skeleton Key (2005) inserted voodoo into the story, while Jordan Peele injected Get Out (2017), with the topic of racism. In Another End, Piero Messina adds absolutely nothing valuable to the well-worn sub-genre.

The film opens up with the words “NOT HERE” morphing into the film title “ANOTHER” by adding one letter to each end of the two words. I have absolutely no idea what’s the significance of this, except to demonstrate that one of the four scriptwriters is pretty good at Scrabble. What follows is the story of Sal (Gael Garcia Bernal), who tragically lost his gorgeous wife Zoe (Renate Reinsve) in a tragic car crash. His sister Ebe (Bérénice Bejo) happens to work for a company called Aeterna, which offers a mind-swapping service called Another End. Basically, the memories of dead people are stored in a card more or less the size of a credit card and then implanted into “Hosts” (living people willing to lend their bodies, presumably in exchange for money, even if the film never clarifies their motivation). The “Absent Ones” (the dead people) inhabit the body of their “Host” temporarily only. The “Simulation” comes to an end as soon as the “Absent Ones” realise that they are dead. It is therefore the mission of the surviving relatives of the “Absent Ones” to ensure that they are tricked into believing that nothing happened for as long as possible.

At first, Sal hesitates. He changes his mind (pun intended) after being asked whether his wife is in the memory card or in the ash urn standing next to it. He decides for the former. Zoe comes back to life in the body of a stripper. The awkward experience gradually morphs into something a lot more significant, as Sal becomes involved romantically involved with both his dead wife and the living lap dancer (who share the same body). The action takes place in an unidentified nation, despite the film being spoken in English (except for a few conversations in Spanish between Sal and his sister Ebe), and Italy being the sole production country.

The script is so unoriginal and hackneyed that even an actor as accomplished as Gael Bernal is unable to display his dramatic skills. Sal is exaggeratedly sad, his mouth constantly trembling in a sign of despair and vacillation. This is at odds with the own film premise: our protagonist not to display any insecurities as this could lead to the termination of the “Simulation”. The settings are tacky, the excessive urban lighting making it look like a sub-subpar Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982). The scenes in the strip club are cringey and cliched. The music score is invasive and bathetic.

The plot is a constant assault on plausibility. How would anyone not realise that the body in which they just woke up happens to be someone else’s, particularly when a mainstream company has been widely advertising their unusual “body hosting” services? Thousands of “Hosts” are stored inside individual plastic bags in a giant warehouse resembling a mortuary, but that too doesn’t make any sense. If these people are alive, why do they need to be held in bizarre stockroom? These absurd development would work well in an overtly bonkers science-fiction movie with a sense of self-irony. Such is not the case here. Sadly, Another End takes itself very seriously, assuming that people will buy into their their half-baked story with the same confidence that the film characters purchased a new lease of life to their recently-deceased loved ones.

The ending is beyond predictable, and you will probably see it coming either after reading this review or in the first 15 minutes of the film. This leaves you with nearly two painful hours to watch: this ambitious film has a runtime of 129 minutes. The final twist is entirely ripped from two very famous horror movies, an American one from 1999 and a Spanish one from two years later. The only surprise is that the filmmaker dared to go such down such a shockingly obvious route. Our advice to human beings still inhabiting their birth body: A more appropriate film title would have been The Same End.

Another End just premiered in the Official Competition of the 74th Berlin International Film Festival. Steer clear of cinemas showing this monstrosity.


By Victor Fraga - 20-02-2024

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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