I’m going to stand on my soapbox for a second and rant a bit as something of a segue way into this movie. So buckle up. I don’t dig normal movies. I mean, they are fine. Sometimes. But don’t talk down to me. Please please don’t talk down to me. And better yet, give me something to think about. So the harder a movie is to understand, the more I like it. (Thus this entire website.) But in my real life, people know that I run this site so they’ll stop me in an elevator and say hey! Tay! What should I watch this weekend. And, because I’m a super super nice guy… I say, you know what?!? Give X movie a try. And more often than not? I hear back from them something to the effect of, “Dude, you are mental!” And to put this in context, I heard this while recommending the movie ARRIVAL. ARRIVAL! Of all the movies I like, the Arrival is about as normal as it gets!
So all that to say, Realive is not one of the NORMAL movies that I would recommend. Realive is an introspective head job of a movie that makes you realistically reassess our ideas of longevity, cryogenics, timelessness, etc. And none of those words in that last sentence are normal. None of them. Right? So, if you are one of those people that plans to come back to me later and try and compare it with how much better the latest Marvel movie is? I do not want to hear it. Nope. But if you don’t mind listening to a slower movie postulate about a real imagined future, this might possibly be a movie you might get into. Maybe.
Yeah, so if that looks interesting to you – maybe you should check it out. The original title is actually Proyecto Lázaro, or Project Lazarus, which makes perfect sense after watching the film. But in the west I believe it is being marketed as Realive. So, if you didn’t catch it from the trailer – the movie is about a man that cryogenically freezes himself after finding out he has a inoperable brain tumor. And he wakes up 80 years later after extensive rebuilding and reworking of his physical body. Surprisingly, the reality of his being brought back to life isn’t anything close to what he had imagined would happen. Not by a long shot. And as he struggles with this new world and this new reality he ponders why he made this choice. The movie is told in a very well choreographed back and forth between 80 years prior and the future. And it really is an interesting discussion about the ethics and the realities of such a thing.
If you would like a more contemplative movie for your evening. And you like to think. And you don’t mind more questions than answers. But oh you have to have your awesome trick ending? This might just work for me. It worked for me. But, we all know how few people are like me.
Realive Movie Overview
From here on out, this post is all about the inner workings of this movie. Please find a copy of the film and watch it before proceeding. Thanks for that!
So like I said, this movie kicks off with Marc and Naomi and their various and sorted friends finding out that Marc has a brain tumor. It is inoperable, and he maybe has a year to live. But Marc an Naomi (Oona Chaplin – um, Taboo much anyone?!?) have only just gotten back together again, what are they going to do?!?
And as I said, this movie is told in a see-saw fashion as we learn what happened to Marc in the past and also what happened to him in the future. It was a very interesting and compelling editing decision really. So flash forward to the future when Marc wakes up. His body is less than it was, but then again, he was sitting in a cryochamber for the better part of a century. So what do you expect? And the movie starts in on this assumption right away with Marc’s voice over, “What can we expect from life? A body that is strong…?” that was his expectation anyway. An assumption that was incorrect.
Not only that, but his body is beginning to lose his memories of the past. They are fogging out and growing more grey, and less detailed. But the doctor, Victor, is keeping things from him. What is it? Why are they kepping secrets? And as his rehabilitation progresses, Marc continues to try and figure out what they are lying to him about.
Flash back to the past and Naomi, and we realize that the relationship between Marc and Naomi has been something of a star-crossed lover situation from the beginning. Marc is into Naomi, but tires of waiting. Naomi tires of the flightiness of her boyfriend, but Marc has already moved on. Etc. etc. It is a compelling push and pull that shows there was a lot more to their relationship than we were led to believe in the beginning. I actually really loved this detail as it showed a relationship realistically for once. So we finally understand that this brain tumor is just one more tug of war in their relationship that is pulling them back apart again.
Leap forward again to the future, and Marc is handed a box of belongings that was held for him. And inside this box is a letter from Naomi at 54. The note from Naomi lets him know that she is dying now, and that she is going to cryogenically freeze herself at the same company as well. And that she is hopeful to see him again. But Marc makes this fantastic quote about both their relationship and life in general: “No! Life is too fragile and too difficult for me to actually find you in a different place and a different time.”
More importantly, the audience discovers that his body is boycotting himself, and that was why his memories were failing. But more importantly, Marc is starting to feel guilty about the decisions that he made to freeze himself and to leave Naomi behind. “And it’s no wonder, he sacrificed a remarkable woman for an inadequate dream.”
Realive and Thoughts On The Afterlife
The movie sort of opens a discourse with the viewer about halfway through when it asks what we hope for when we think of the afterlife. It wonders aloud if our goal is to make up for the grief and the pain of this life? Or maybe to settle the debts of sin and guilt maybe? No… actually – the movie posits – that instead, we are hoping to have in the afterlife what we once had but then lost. And that stopped me in my tracks. Is that what I see when I envision heaven or the afterlife? Um. I don’t know. Is it a remix of this life, with brighter colors, and more glowing yellow light, and all our familiar friends and family? If there really was something, the movie states, we would turn it in to the exact same tale by the exact same idiot.
The Hidden Sins Of The Fathers
And that is when Marc goes hunting for clues as to what it is exactly that the organization is hiding from him. And eventually he finds a pile of chips to be used with his Mind Writer, a sort of Black Mirror type of device that lets the user record their memories and review them later. But these chips were of the failed attempts to create the first Lazarus… the many failed attempts that tried and tried and tried to create the first Lazarus. Some Lazarii commit suicide. Some have their skin and organs fail. Some just go completely mad.
At that point, is when Marc finds out that the company has decided to bring Naomi back as the second Lazarus. And that is when Marc starts to unhinge a bit. But why? Because it was when he was about to drink the poison that he realized that his last few months on earth were the best moments of his life. Both the joys, and the sorrows… feeling deeply… being really alive. And so he says, “Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen of the future, I decide I want to be nothing again and to rest in peace.”
The Ending Right Hook of Realive
So what is that ending about? He heads to Naomi’s cryo-unit, and pulls off the tube, and opens the lid. And then sits there with his head against Naomi’s unit to die. Fade to black.
White light. Wait what?
“Marc, we are so glad we got to you in time. We will never let you be discouraged again.”
End of movie.
What happened? Well, Marc basically ruined Naomi’s chances for coming back again by thawing her out. He was intent not to inflict this on her like it was inflicted on him. That what they had together in the few months before he died was the best possible outcome for his life. And to mar that memory by trying to rebuild what he had here in the future? With this other woman? Or even with Naomi? Makes no sense at all. It will never be that again. That, is gone. And this? This is different. And horrifying actually. Marc is effectively a caged lab rat. Marc is an investor report. Marc is a stock price boost. And so he ended his life. And ended Naomi’s.
But not so fast, because Marc is their prodigy. He is there marketing plan. He can’t die now because that would mean the company would have to admit failure. He can’t disappear because that would be explainable and untenable to the stock holders. So they rush to him, and even though he’s dead, they bring him back yet again. And this time, they will keep him medicated and happy. They will control him, pardon the metaphor, soup to nuts. Think about it. The only reason they were bringing Naomi back was to increase his optimism and to rally his spirits. The only reason they were intervening on her behalf was because Marc’s body was rejecting this experience. And in order to sell it to him physically they were going to intervene and bring his old life back to him.
No? Marc will awake to the news that Naomi is in the recovery room near by. And in a few weeks she will be in good enough shape to be seen. And he’ll be in good enough shape to get up again. And the two of them will search for ways to make this horror end but will be perpetually cryo-slaves until the stock owners for the company deem them irrelevant after newer technology has been released. But for now? They are not dying. No sir. Not on their watch.
No? What are your thoughts on the movie? I’d love to hear just how much you hated it. Really. I would. hahaha.