Matt Smith and Eva Green star in Clone, an uncompromising exploration of the lengths love will go to to survive and how it affects all parties involved.
Director and writer Benedek Fliegauf traverses that rarest of beasts in cinema with Clone (known as Womb upon its original release)– he holds a premise that is, to all intents and purposes, unique. Cloning is by no means a new theme but it has rarely been centred around a story such as this. The complexities cloning brings to relationships has been explored before (see last year’s Never Let Me Go) but here Rebecca (Green) sets about giving birth to a clone of her childhood sweetheart Tommy after he unexpectedly dies hours after they rendevous as adults.
The story is unnerving and holds a lot of promise. Fliegauf manages to breed a coldness into his film that helps maintain the bleakness of the script but this bleakness is unrelenting. It’s difficult to believe just how strong Tommy and Rebecca’s initial bond is despite the screen time devoted to the subject and, when Rebecca decides to clone him, it strikes as a little alarming that such a relative stranger should be willing to go to such measures. The cloning itself conveniently goes unexplained except for a brief moment where Tommy speaks about his work against the project. The fact that Rebecca seems so willing to go against his wishes highlights her unnerving presence.
Smith and Green do well as their respective characters and express much more than their little dialogue allows. The pressures that begin to show as Tommy’s clone grows up with his all-consuming mother are unsettling and provide the film with much of its captivating uneasiness. Here again the issue of cloning is only skirted around, with Tommy’s friends going missing thanks to prejudice against his clone status. Peripheral characters are given little room to do much and as a result Natalia Tena and Hannah Murray go to waste somewhat.
Clone under-utilises its subject matter and becomes an uneventful series of random events. The premise promises much but the execution is slow and the exposition doesn’t provide enough backstory to totally immerse the viewer.