In Selfless (0r Self/Less) we meet Damian (Ben Kingsley), a wealthy and brilliant NYC tycoon facing the one problem that can't be solved with either brilliance, willpower, or money: the slow, inevitable erosion that comes with disease. Damian gets a miraculous boon when he is approached by Albright (Matthew Goode), an innovative (and shady) scientist with a revolutionary new technology that allows for transfer of consciousness from one body to another.
When Damian accepts the unique "Fountain of Youth" opportunity in front of him, it at first seems like all will be well. With his consciousness transferred into a prime young body (that of Ryan Reynolds'), Damian has the experience and wisdom of age, as well as the vigor of youth all in front of him. The hiccup comes when Damian's mind begins to be invaded with memories and impulses of the soul who occupied the body before him - an invasion that turns his life (and purpose) upside-down.
The latest film from visual auteur/director Tarsem Singh (Immortals, Mirror Mirror), Self/less looks like a composite of other films we've seen before - albeit with the unique visual signature of Tarsem Singh. However, Singh's style is not universally loved, and the tone of the film seems somewhat confusing in this trailer: one-part heady sci-fi dramedy; one-part Ryan Reynolds pulling yet another "Freaky Friday" comedy act (see also: The Change-Up).
None of those seeming drawbacks is a deal-breaker, though. Even if a bit cliched, the sci-fi premise at the heart of Self/less is perennially resonant for good reason (it's something we all continuously contemplate). Moreover, Singh's surrealist visual style seems to be significantly restrained here, only coming out in sporadic bursts at appropriately abstract points - such as when Damian is experiencing the memories and impressions of his body's previous owner. That's all to say, Self/less seems to have found a balanced middle ground between worn out sci-fi ideas and an overly stylistic director, to the greater benefit of the film.
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Now that this trailer is out, it answers a lot of the mystery that arose when a mysterious cell phone arrived on my doorstep yesterday (yes, an actual smartphone). Programmed with the phone number and images of the conspicuously-named "Phoenix Biogenic" facility, the viral marketing device offers insight into Albright's consciousness transfer process and technology (seen above). We'll keep you posted about any updates the "Phoenix Phone" sends our way.
Self/less (or just Selfless) will be in theaters on July 31st.
Source: Focus Features
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