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Entry updated 30 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (2011). Relativity in association with Virgin Produced presents a Rogue/Many Rivers/Boy of the Year production in association with Intermedia Film. Directed by Neil Burger. Written by Leslie Dixon, based on the novel The Dark Fields (2001) by Alan Glynn. Cast includes Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert de Niro, Anna Friel and Andrew Howard. 105 minutes. Colour.

A blocked sf novelist acquires an illicit stash of genius (and eidetic-Memory) pills and reinvents himself as a financial wizard, before side-effects and criminal interests catch nastily up with him. Dixon, who also produced, adapted the novel as a personal project after two decades of finding herself assigned on the basis of her sex to fluffy date fare such as her earlier sf credit Just Like Heaven (2005), obtaining the rights from Harvey Weinstein by a daring manoeuvre of contractual pickpocketing. The result is the most effective evocation on film of the subjective experience of radically enhanced Intelligence, with the familiar cautionary arc of Drugs narrative serving as the spine of a Faustian thriller with strong cinematic spikes of transcendent consciousness. Cooper is excellent as the self-sabotaging writer who sharpens spectacularly up in head, lifestyle and sartorial presence, only to fall messily apart as the consequences of his choice kick in. The hero's genius percipience does not always extend to the thumpingly obvious, but his slowness to address fundamental aspects of his situation simply adds to the intensity, involving the audience actively in the generation of suspense as the brilliant narrator fails to see coming what the dimmest of spectators can. A completely new ending was written in haste two weeks before shooting to secure the casting of de Niro by expanding his character's role in the resolution, leaving some plot elements orphaned but introducing an ultimately more interesting ambiguity over exactly what has just happened. [NL]


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