Thursday, November 20, 2008

REPO! The Genetic Opera (with some Phantom residue!)

REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA (dir. Darren Lynn Bousman, US, 2008, 98 mins.) is making a slow, though thorough release around the country this month. (A complete release schedule is HERE!) It may have already come and gone off your local indie-plex as of the date of this posting, but what a short and wild ride you may have missed! Where else could you see Sarah Brightman on the same screen with Paris Hilton, in an opera, and both playing organ transplant addicts?! That only scratches the surface of the oddity, if not nearly forced cultish appeal, of the piece. Anthony Head plays the organ-repossessor in a future where organ transplants are financed like auto loans. The lead is actually played by Alexa Vega. She is the Repo's daughter and suffers from an incurable blood disease, which her father has literally imprisoned her from the outside world to protect her. The actual plot involves her escape and exploration of this weird world.

Now, why exactly this craze of transplants began has something to do with an epidemic which necessitated these surgeries, that in part created a hypo-analgesic with such addictive properties that the addicts submit to continued transplants just to get the injections. Or so it seems. Paul Sorvino plays the corporate owner of GeneCo, which is involved in all this organ transplant/repossession. He is also the father of two sons and a daughter, who are in a struggle with each other to take over the corporation. This is where Paris Hilton enters, as Sorvino's daughter, in a performance that is NOT distracting, which sounds like faint praise, but she actually stands her ground in the surrealism that surrounds her.

In the midst of this madness, there is a blind opera star, played with aplomb by Sarah Brightman. Her character, Blind Mag, is something of a Deus Ex Machina for the climax. However, Brightman's performance is near, classic silent film in its operatic grandiosity! She is comparable to "Maria" from METROPOLIS. The makeup design/cgi work on her eyes is creepily stunning!

The music itself is hard to grasp on a single hearing, as is the plot on a single viewing. The result is expressionistic, where there are no real details or melody to grab onto, but the totality of the experience is what hung with me at the end. The production design is post-industrial enough to allow for a relatively low budget. The make-up design is thoroughly enjoyable, as a organ transplant plot would require it to be. The sound design is nearly overwhelming instrumentally. However, the vocals do not suffer from over syncing, and appear to be the performers actual voices. (I was surprised to find out that Sorvino did his own singing!)

So, with that, I am actually looking forward to its DVD release early next year, and I may try to see it again at the Landmark Opera Plaza here in San Francisco the week of November 21st!

Maxxxxx says
re REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA: "Dooby doobie doo-ooo!"

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