This was my first foray into the filmography of David Cronenberg, and I’m definitely intrigued. The story follows a game designer named Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who has just created a new virtual reality game called eXistenZ. Everyone in this time period has bio-ports installed in their spine, which allow them to connect to their fleshy game console via an umbilical cord. At the demonstration for eXistenz, though, a young man who is attending attempts to kill Geller with a weird-ass pistol. It’s up to Ted Pikul (Jude Law) to protect Geller and figure out why people want her dead and if her game is malfunctioning.
The entire cast shines in this film, with Jennifer Jason Leigh especially captivating the camera. She’s beautiful, smart, and mysterious, and conveys her emotions via a sly smirk or a sideways glance. Jude Law is great Ted, and his innocence and naivete to the world of virtual reality helps connect the audience to the admittedly unusual story. Christopher Eccleston and Willem Dafoe also give incredible cameo performances that help anchor the film.
The practical effects are incredible. The work that went into making this film is insane, and all the better for it. Even though eXistenZ is heavily focused on the human body and frequently shows gore and viscera, it never feels gratuitous.
Some viewers will find this film to be too weird or stomach-churning, I found eXistenZ to be fascinating and an intriguing look into the human psyche. The practical effects are amazing, and the acting is solid.
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