Saturday, March 14, 2020

Movie Reviews: Only

Only
directed by Takashi Doscher
This film works the same side of the street as works like Stephen and Owen King's book Sleeping Beauties, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, or the films Children of Men, and A Quiet Place. It is more focused on the individuals and not the larger story. 

For an apocalyptic movie this film has almost no special effects. The story is woven tightly around two young lovers and how they deal with doomsday. Unfortunately there are some people of both genders who express disdain and vitriol for the other gender and claim to look forward to a world where the other gender is either suppressed or completely eliminated. 

I think those are anti-life opinions held by people who often have some unexamined familial strife and sexual/psychological issues. A dystopia where one gender disappears can show us what we truly value in each other and ourselves. 

In the modern day, Will (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Eva (Freda Pinto) are a loving couple who live together. A comet passes over the world. For a period of time (the film jumps in time back and forth between the duo's present predicament and 400 days prior when the comet first appeared), the comet produces ash that falls across the planet. Although it looks like snow, it's not snow. 


This ash contains a bacteria or virus that occasionally infects but does not kill men or boys. But the ash kills women, either immediately or soon afterwards.

Some women live longer than others but with one possible exception there don't appear to be any who are immune. Women and girls die by the multitudes. Governments across the world face the impending end of humanity. 

Governments create medical centers which are supposed to help cure women. But everyone suspects that the centers are not designed to help women so much as they are built to harvest eggs and find a way to mass produce artificial wombs. Women and girls have become so rare that the US government is offering million dollar bounties for the delivery of a live female. Initially the bounties are only for women of child bearing age but eventually government agents search for females of any age. And of course thugs search for women for other reasons.

Will refuses to turn the love of his life over to the government for "experiments". The formerly genial and soft-spoken Will will do whatever it takes to keep Eva safe. It's a responsibility Will takes seriously. Will will kill and die for Eva if needed. Eva may be the last woman in the world. 


The problem from Eva's point of view is that although she appreciates and respects the steps that Will takes to protect her, she didn't ask for any of it.

Eva passively resents and occasionally actively disagrees with or resists some of Will's decisions. As in many emergency situations, both individual and societal, democracy falls by the wayside.

Will has to struggle with his girlfriend's unhappiness and challenges while trying to keep her and himself safe.  No matter how much you love someone could you stay close by them 24-7? Could you turn over all decision making to them if that's what it took to stay alive? Is it, during times of stress and conflict, automatically the man's role to provide and protect? If so can the woman question her man's leadership if doing so can get them both killed.

This was a powerful intelligent movie that shows once again that sci-fi/speculative fiction doesn't need to rely on cheap thrills, gore and T&A. The big narrative weakness, if there was one, is that it is utterly pointless ever to attempt to disguise Freida Pinto as male. Even the dimmest man would immediately recognize that Eva is female. There's nothing that is androgynous about Pinto. Not even a little.

The duo's relationship is the film's selling point. The film nimbly demonstrates how intimates can communicate wordlessly with and sacrifice for one another. The acting is realistic, warm and intense. Will and Eva love each other desperately, even if their relationship is strained to the breaking point. There is rising tension and drama but little violence.  I enjoyed the movie. You might as well.
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