Take a Drink: for each flashback
Take a Drink: whenever Edward tells William something about his past
Take a Drink: for the bodycount
Do a Shot: for some Prestige-level shit
Do a Shot: Uh-oh, Cloneos!
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
If you’re ever thinking about taking the plunge on a high-concept indie flick you may have never heard of, consider Amy Seimetz’s involvement a mark of approval. She’s been in everything from Upstream Color to It Follows to Tiny Furniture as of late, and even directed her own apparently-excellent-just-wish-they’d-release-the-damn-thing-already Sun Don’t Shine. So, when I saw she was in this flick, I knew it was worth a roll of the dice.
The Reconstruction of William Zero begins as a man wakes up another, identical man and tells him that he lost his memories in a car crash that killed is young son, and that he’s going to help him recover them. Oh, and he’s his twin brother. The mysteries of this film spin ever outward from there, and I won’t reveal too much, except to say, stick with them, because they’re worth the ride.
Director Dan Bush, who also co-wrote along with multiple-part star Conal Byrne, pushes you right into the plot pool and forces you to swim, then ratchets up the stakes of his story quickly and pulls you along with it. This in particular forces you to take some things for granted, in particular regarding Byrne’s dual performances, both of which appear to suffer from some weird line readings, but… stick with it. Let’s just say that Byrne plays a potential psychopath brilliantly.
Imagine if Michael J. Fox was even more of a full-blown sociopath than his Good Wife character.
Seimetz also does quite well as his estranged wife, particularly in the way she plays a woman torn between her better instincts and her unshakable love for a person who has changed in ways she can’t put her finger on. Without giving up too much of the plot, though, the absolute best part of the film is a second act wrinkle that recasts everything that came before it into something resembling the only actually good (make that great) part of last year’s Penny Dreadful– the Frankenstein and his monsters plot. Just like that, it opens up some fascinating questions about the relationship and responsibilities of creator and created, and arguably develops them even better.
The one drawback to all this is how long it takes to get to the real meat of the story. For about 45 minutes the plot is treading a rather different, more conventional, and frankly boring line, to the point where I was seriously thinking five beers or worse. Now, that right there should tell you how beautifully William Zero course corrects, but it doesn’t make that first viewing any more fun.
Also, the ending kind of squanders the goodwill of the big twist a bit. How easy do you think it would be to create a whole new identity, exactly, even as a genius scientist? Lastly, Amy Seimetz’s character is just about the most resilient woman ever… when you marry a geneticist, you learn to just go with it, I guess.
Bush and DP Jon Swindall shoot the film slickly enough, but the muted color palette accentuates the Debbie Downer vibes of, well, everything. A little humor or even a few rays of sunshine would have gone a long way towards bringing this film together a bit, especially in the draggy first act.
Must be Seattle…
It’s difficult to discuss this sci-fi mind-pretzel without getting into spoiler territory, but trust me- ride out the opening and you’ll find plenty to appreciate. Or just take Amy Seimetz’s word for it.