Thursday, March 10, 2011

Film Review--The Fly

THE FLY
starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, and Jaleel White as "The Beav."

Seth Brundle (Goldblum) is a brilliant but weird (go figure) scientist.  He attempts to impress a journalist (Davis) by showing off his new invention: a teleporter.  There's one hitch: Brundle has yet to teleport a living thing successfully.  Out of frustration, he decides to teleport himself.  It works.  Unfortunately, he was unaware that a fly had gotten into the teleporter.  The device was unable to handle two separate DNA sources...so it merged the two of them together.  Madness and horror ensue as Brundle becomes The Fly.

I remember seeing this shortly after it came out in 1986 (oh there's no point in being coy, I'm 40.)  I didn't like it.  Now, I appreciate it a great deal more.  Why?  I think there are a number of reasons.  For one, I hold director David Cronenberg's work in high esteem. At age 15, I don't think I was ready for a departure from the norm, a horror film that was artistically surreal as many of his films are.  Now, I'll gladly take something as fresh and innovative as this over the typical Hollywood sci-fi tripe any day.  I also think having an affinity for Kafka's The Metamorphosis doesn't hurt.  After all, that's what this is...a re-telling not just of the original film The Fly but of Kafka's man-turned-insect, becoming even further removed from a xenophobic society than he already was.  This time, the story is told almost through the drug-saturated lens of the 1980s.  That brings me to my final point: the character of Seth Brundle.  Back in my mid-teens, there was no way I could appreciate what it was like to have a job, to struggle for something I really wanted, to fear for those I love that they might be hurt either on accident or on purpose...or worst of all, by me.  In fact, his whole impetus for going through with his teleportation in the first place is to impress a woman, desiring her love.  It's a human tragedy and you really get that coming through from Seth Brundle.  As Brundlefly, he repulses you at every turn, almost bringing up a new and more horrific attribute of his new form (e.g. the vomiting) with each now scene in his slow, downward spiral into flydom.  Jeff Goldblum gives a performance that makes you feel simultaneously disgusted by, angry with, and heartbroken for him all at the same time.  It is overwhelming at times, thought-provoking for the majority of it, and never once does it let your attention wander away from the screen.  I am glad that I can finally see this film for what it truly is: a triumph.



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