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"There'll just be the two of us..."
on 1 May 2012
Matt Smith is particularly well known for playing the Doctor, but in Clone we see him in a Sci-Fi drama which doesn't involve time-travel or sonic-screwdrivers. Instead of exciting adventure, Clone is a slow paced drama which touches on themes of social discrimination, genetic cloning, and pseudo-incest...
Rebecca and Tommy are two children with a close relationship, though young they are developing feelings for each other and when Rebecca moves to Japan with her mother it has a deep impact on both of them. Twelve years later she returns and the emotional connection which never broke means that the two adults feel instantly comfortable with each other - it seems that two soul mates have finally been reunited. Unfortunately for the lovers, tragedy strikes and Rebecca is left without her Tommy again - but she applies for a genetic cloning license, she will carry a baby genetically identical to Tommy, she will give birth to him and the two shall be reunited for a second time.
Their home, a beach hut, seems to represent the solitude of the family within. This is set either in the near future, or an alternate version of our own present when cloning is common and clones suffer from social stigma. Rebecca is protective of her child and is aware of how adults feel about their children mixing with clones. Clone kids are seen as second rate and the language used by gossipers is reminiscent of the toxic racist terms common in our not-so distant past. It's a discrimination which is unofficially accepted against 'copies' - young Tommy may be a clone, but he's still just a little boy and doesn't understand why the other children aren't allowed to come to his birthday party. Other than the early stages of Clone there are few big events, instead it feels quite real with characters appearing authentic rather than 'acted', Clone is full of very subtle gestures which convey a lot - particularly physical touches which are often brief but deeply significant and usually intimate without being sexual. This is fairly uneventful and many will feel it drags on with very little happening, but the slow pace helps to convey the passing of time and develop the characters - especially Tommy whom we see grow from a baby into a young man roughly the same age as the original Tommy when he died. This can be uncomfortable watching at times as we observe Rebecca seeing Tommy not as her son, but as the Tommy she knew as a child and lost as an adult. She isn't his mother genetically, but she gave birth to him and has raised him, which makes their closeness at times seem a little odd. It's fascinating to see the psychological impact of their relationship on each other, there's an uneasy tension which makes the film compelling to watch.
The Blu-Ray transfer isn't going to knock your socks off but this isn't meant to be a visual feast. However it is rather moody looking with a grey-blue tint and muted colours, the beach hut looks beautifully grim yet homely and the general lack of other buildings, vehicles, or anything 'new' makes it look timeless. It's wonderfully shot and needfully so as Clone relies on imagery more than script.
In a nutshell: Well acted by all involved and explores some ethical questions which may one day be more fact than fiction. This has a feel of gritty reality to it (only let down by Rebecca not really seeming to age over the course of twenty years!) and is an intriguing watch, a refreshing change from frenetically paced Hollywood blockbusters. If I could give this 3.5 stars then I would - I nearly gave this 4 stars but I feel it had a bit more to say and never really managed to say it (especially around the social issues surrounding cloned kids - it was a fascinating angle but not as developed as I'd have liked).