Wednesday 20 August 2014

The Recipient (2010)

Director: Javier Bermúdez
Stars: Zack Zublena, Marigló Vizcarrondo, Cristina Sesto, Terry Muñiz, Lydia Aquino and Alfredo DeQuesada
This film was an official selection at the 7th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2011. Here's an index to my reviews of 2011 films.
While many of its peers in the Sci-Fi Shorts B set at the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in 2011 were complex affairs, worthy of much discussion, The Recipient would seem to be a simpler, much more focused piece. Simple that is, until the very last line, an absolute peach that prompts the reevaluation of everything that has gone before. That's superlative writing from David Norris, who also shot the film, and Javier Bermúdez, who also directed it; both also served as producers. Until the last line, Pierre Gautier is a relatively straightforward lead character, the man referenced in the film's tagline: 'How far will a man go when he finds out that the only way to save his wife is to end the life of another?' Until the last line, what he goes through is something we can all imagine, empathise with or even remember, to a degree. Pierre does go a little further than most of us would, after all. Surely, whatever depth of pain we might discover after the loss of our spouses, most of us would still set limits on what we might do about it.

However, Pierre Gautier is especially devoted and, as a company CEO, he has some resources to bring to bear in the matter. Norris and Bermúdez set him up as a good man, who isn't just clearly in love with his wife on the wedding video he watches as the film begins; he still is, however many years it's been since. He also appears to be a good man in that, even from the pinnacle of his company's power structure, he's willing to take the time to chat with the man who cleans his office. Of course, as the story progresses and we find out what he's willing to do to save his wife, he shifts consistently into darker territory. The people he's working with to bring her back from cryogenic storage are not regular scientists. He has to provide a large payment, of course, but sign no formal contract. There are serious requirements for secrecy and no guarantees that the process will work. He also has to provide a donor, by kidnapping one. These are the people of last resort, providing an underground service at a serious financial and moral cost.
While the film works on the level of the question it poses, the lengths we would knowingly go to in order to save someone we love, there's a little more here that's worthy of discussion. Pierre Gautier is clearly an important man, not just because he's a CEO and he can raise a large sum of money very quickly, but in the way he carries himself. Zack Zublena, a French actor fluent in the English language, makes him feel like he's important because of who he is, someone with natural power, from which his position naturally springs. A poor man could have kidnapped a donor and stolen the money, but he couldn't have had the inherent power to make him appropriate for this story. So, while this is no moral judgement on the 1%, it is a meditation on what power means. And, of course, that's highlighted by the blistering finalé delivered by Mariglo Vizcarrondo in what appears to be her only film role. I won't spoil this and you can't see The Recipient online, so I hope Fanatico Films make it available soon so you can experience it too.

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