Advantageous

advantageous_posterThis 2015 movie is on Netflix.  Watch it.  Don’t be put off by the rating.  Some of the people who rate evidently count the number of car crashes or sex scenes, instead of the number of brain cells engaged.  This movie is artistic and has depth.  At its heart, it is a philosophical inquiry into consciousness.

On one level, Director Jennifer Phang’s film is a futuristic sci-fi drama.  But the future is not the star of the movie.  There are a few flying cars available to remind you that this is the future, but the reason for the reminder is only to point out what hasn’t changed, a hundred years on, rather than what has.  What hasn’t changed is the urgent, get-ahead careerism of the elites.  What hasn’t changed is a mother’s love for her daughter.  What hasn’t changed, despite everything, is the disproportionate value we place on a woman’s looks.

It doesn’t give too much away to say that the protagonist considers a new technology to preserve her youthful allure.  Instead of typical cosmetic surgery, however, the new technology involves an entirely new body.  The idea is that she is preserved by a transfer of her memories to a new, younger self.

Is this step truly advantageous?  Will she be the same person, or not?  Are we a collection of memories, only?  Is our consciousness defined by and contained within our brains, only?  Does our physical brain, exclusively, support all of our feeling of subjectivity, self-awareness, continuity of thinking and memory?  Our love for those intimately close to us?

Or, is there something more, to consciousness?  Is there a connection to the ineffable infinite, which makes a memory dump only that, and not really a substitution of body for the same person?

While you’re watching the answer to this question unfold, take note of the artistry of this fine film.  You’ll note the harsh sterility of the futuristic landscape, but upon reflection, is it so very different in feel and tone from what we experience now?  Against that dark background are the languid and touching scenes of mother and daughter together, and the daughter with her friends, enjoying together a last fleeting moment of carefree childhood existence.

Thinking art.  This is what we should be going to the movies for.

 

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