Sunday, May 12, 2019

Tribeca with Abe: Only

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which ran April 24th – May 5th.

Directed by Takashi Doscher
Spotlight Narrative

There are many ways that the world could end, and so many different paths to inch the inhabitants of the Earth closer to it. Dystopian stories usually present something that has lost so much of what makes up society today, contemplating how certain warning signs that may already be present could evolve into something truly destructive. Governments may fall and sensibilities may be corrupted within even the best of people, and survival may be the only true goal of those who are left untouched, whether partially or entirely, by whatever agent or event it was that led to chaos. Such narratives are rarely optimistic but, when done right, they can be fascinating.

It has been four hundred days since the outbreak of a mysterious virus that is fatal only to women. Eva (Freida Pinto) has managed to stay alive, thanks mostly to the meticulous procedures devised by her disease expert father and followed every day by Will (Leslie Odom Jr.). Aware that her very existence puts her in danger, Eva evades detection and prepares for what she knows will be her inevitable demise, an eventuality that Will refuses to accept.

This is a film that works well by splitting its plot into the events being experienced in the present by Eva and Will and everything that led up to that day. From the ash falling from the sky that accompanies the inexplicable symptoms of each woman who visits the hospital to the bleak landscape that an almost entirely male population travels in the aftermath of the near-extinction of women, this film remains riveting and feels vital. News reports about Congress authorizing a reward for the reporting of live American females only aid the terrifying thought that, aside from a few specifics, a world like this might not be far too from resembling reality.

In addition to a strong and well-executed story, this film rests on the excellent performances delivered by its two leads. Pinto, best known for “Slumdog Millionaire,” manages to convey the incredible and unbearable claustrophobia that Eva feels having to follow a rigid routine each day without any contact with fresh air or other people. Odom Jr., who won a Tony for “Hamilton” and starred in “Smash,” is equally compelling, demonstrating Will’s unyielding commitment to keeping the love of his life safe. This exploration of what two people living for each other against all odds shares some elements with other films, but the way it handles its material compellingly demonstrates that stories like this are well worth telling.


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