Radiant

The blurb in the EIFF brochure read very well for this movie. A small, cheaply made, new breed of sci-fi movie carrying on from where Primer started.

A slight clue of “a series of sunning visual images” should have been enough to alert me, unfortunately it wasn’t.


The movie starts off promisingly enough, the use of imagery and simple short clips convey the bigger story, which would normally need a considerably higher budget than the one here. However it did start to worry me as it continued, combined with another overly husky Max Payne type voice over the movie was starting to look not so good. I hoped it was just the introduction to the story.

The story is what really caught me and took me to this movie. The idea that a research scientist has created a virus that actually protects the cells it infects from other infection was an interesting scientific idea. Then that subjects who had the most bizarre disorders sought out the scientist and offered to be his human experiments made me think this could be one very good small movie. Yet the introduction hadn’t gone well.

There did seem to be a change of pace as the movie turned to recorded interviews with the four main characters in the movie, the test subjects. Although the acting wasn’t superb, there seemed to be a lot of scope for character development throughout the movie, and the recordings were done quite well with a varied mix of characters. However these faded through the movie. They weren’t used again after a few brief clips and I did feel that there was a missed opportunity to provide some great character development by reflecting back to them, however it wasn’t to be.

The imagery becomes increasingly disconnected from the story, often repeating to represent something that is still happening. This disconnection and repetition is reflected in the annoying and distracting commentary. It began reciting words one after the other. Short, meaningless sentences and reciting none too relevant or interesting scientific ramblings. If there was something to be described, four or five words would be used, it was too long, repetitive, circular, looping,…you’re getting the idea.

Now this could have been to reflect the confusion and of the character, slowly becoming caught up in his own thoughts, rambling due to lack of food and water. What it actually did was to cause me to totally switch off to the voice and by the closing stages of the movie I found that I hadn’t been listening to some of the ramblings.

A number of times that an event occurs the camera shows all the characters one after the other for their reaction, which seems to be somewhere between confused and thoughtful. There are repeated fades from the same scene to the same scene, for instance a character sleeping fades to black, then fades back in on the character sleeping again. Look, we know the character is asleep, we know time has passed, please move on. Overall there are just too many atmospheric cuts and long, hanging shots to fill time.

The acting was not bad, and the characters were okay, but not exploited and developed. When they were interacting there were some truly cringeworthy moments. For example when one of them asks if they are hungry the camera looks to each of them and returns to a group shot, they pause, look to each other, turn back to camera and say slowly “No”. It raised a snigger or two. Their dialogue was slow, glossy and either it was missing altogether or totally unnecessary, there seemed to be no middle ground where the dialogue hit spot on.

However, there were some good scenes, but they were really hard to find unless you viewed them in isolation, and this is what it almost looks like has happened with this movie. The film has been looked at as a series of scenes and not as a complete story.

Nowhere is this seen more than in the main storyline. The characters are infected with the virus that has been killing the animals, the one that was being engineered for them. We’re told that it develops in stages to something dramatic, and so that is what we expect. What we get are the characters eating loads together, all throwing up once together, water pouring from their mouths in unconvincing streams, then they all fall asleep, these are the phases which all happen really early in the movie. Then, they all say “Good” together when asked how they are, and that’s it. That’s the virus done, nothing else happens.

There could have been so much more done with this movie, so much more developed with the virus and it protecting them from all manner of harm. It could have explored a serious change of these characters as it infected and took over them, it could have developed these characters, shown them making decisions and doing things that connect back to their character shown in flashbacks to the interviews.

The ending isn’t even confusing, intriguing or thought provoking. It just shows something that happens and that’s it, although in the long, drawn out style with the irritating voice over above it. I really struggled with this movie and watched a number of Press members walk out (including one famous TV critic leaving within the first twenty minutes), I stayed, but regretted the lost time.

IMDB UK movie details

My voting history on UK IMDB

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