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James D’Arcy is one of those good-looking, highly competent British actors who is steadily and widely employed, but seldom gets cast in the main role – apart from, say, playing Edward VIII in Madonna’s memorably panned biopic WE. This quirky, low-budget science-fiction feature gives him a chance to let rip (maybe just a smidge too much at times) as Adam Bird, a depressed middle manager for a technology firm. The American accents everyone puts on, even though most of the cast is British, suggests that events are supposed to be taking place somewhere in North America, though the cityscape, with its glowing monorail and CGI skyline, is pretty obviously a set – in this case a studio in Vilnius, Lithuania. That barely matters because the characters hardly ever go outside, and if they do it’s mainly at night because the sun is now so hot and toxic.
Writer-director Guy Moshe has mashed together some solid and recently fashionable dystopian conceits, touching, for instance, on the existential dilemmas of cloning, or the lovelessness of always-online society. However, after a promising start featuring lushly brutalist production design – all concrete, 3D printed plastic and recessed lighting – the concepts start to feel like a less interesting Black Mirror episode, and the last act is a mess.
But D’Arcy really goes hell for leather as his character starts to unravel: he faces betrayal from his wife (Anna Brewster), a Mephistophelian inventor (Delroy Lindo) and eventually his own facsimile. Jagged editing with explicatory flashbacks doesn’t make it any easier to parse, and the confinement to a single set for most of the second half evokes experimental fringe theatre, not necessarily in a good way. However, the scene where Adam shags a rubber sex doll will live on in the memory long after you’ve forgotten what the film was actually about.
• LX 2048 is available on digital platforms from 25 January.
Source: The Guardian
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