Realive (2016)

  • Time: 112 min
  • Genre: Drama | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Mateo Gil
  • Cast: Tom Hughes, Charlotte Le Bon, Oona Chaplin


Marc (Tom Hughes) is diagnosed with a disease and is given one year left to live. Unable to accept his own end, he decides to freeze his body. Sixty years later, in the year 2084, he becomes the first man to be revived in history. It is then he discovers that the love of his life, Naomi (Oona Chaplin), has accompanied him this entire time in a way that he’d never expected.


  • Best known for his Alejandro Amenábar-directed screenplays Abre los ojos and The Sea Inside, Mateo Gil takes his second turn behind the camera in the Spanish-produced, English-language drama, Realive.

    Flitting back and forth between three different time periods, the film centers on Marc Jarvis (Tom Hughes), a successful commercial artist who learns that he has terminal cancer. Much to the objections of his on-again, off-again true love Naomi (Oona Chaplin), he decides to get himself cryogenically frozen in the hopes that he can be revived one day and rid of his illness. The only hitch is that he must commit suicide in order to ensure that his body remains as unravaged as possible by the cancer.

    Fast forward to 2084 when the Prodigy Health Corporation has followed through on their claim of being “the world’s most successful regeneration program” by resurrecting Marc. Marc is actually the program’s first viable product – a Frankenstein monster-like amalgamation of cloned tissue and bio-robotic enhancements – and the team, led by Dr. Victor West (Barry Ward) is intent on ensuring that they help him gain enough strength to become presentable to their sponsors. The weakened Marc is assigned Elizabeth (Charlotte Le Bon), whose mission it is to tend to his emotional and physical needs. The world may not have changed too much from Marc’s time, but the attitudes on sex have – sex is viewed as a social function rather than associated with romantic love.

    Naturally, Marc realises that this chance at a second and longer life is not as he expected. Umbilically attached to a “mother” that controls his vital organs, Marc spends most of his time building up his strength and using a “memory writer,” a VR-like device that allows him to reflect upon and record past memories to be used for public consumption. It’s in immersing himself in those memories that he questions his decision. Is his life now really the life he wanted? Should he have simply used the year he had left to finally be with Naomi?

    Unfortunately, Hughes’ performance is too close to comatose for audiences to develop any interest in his dilemma. Gil does his tale no favours with an aimless narrative and characters that are sketchy at best. Chaplin, who is an arresting presence, is especially saddled with a flat, one-note, and often shrill character. Le Bon, another compelling beauty, equally struggles to overcome Elizabeth’s blandness.

    It’s truly a shame as there are some interesting themes at play here. Realive does possess a stylishly sterile aesthetic that belies its alleged $7 million budget, though that same financial constraint may be the reason for Marc’s barely there interest in the outside world of 2084.

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  • “Imagine you were born totally aware and conscious of everything around you. Conscious you were coming out of someone else’s body. Joined to it by a bloody cord that you are completely covered in blood. Conscious of the dry air entering your lungs for the first time. The sharp sounds in your ears. The blinding light in your eyes. Conscious that your bones are unbearably soft and your life is so fragile, it could disappear at any moment. That’s what being resurrected is like.”

    Perhaps the initial idea of Marc Jarvis (Tom Hughes) wasn’t so bad. The moment he hears he’s terminally ill and only has a few months to live, he decides to get himself cryogenically preserved. In other words, he’ll turn into a Popsicle. Not forever. Only until the medical world is capable to heal him from his disease, after which he can lead a healthy life again. A great idea but with one disadvantage. And that’s something Marc is going to find out afterwards. The downside is that you leave your loved ones behind as well. And it might be that the spirit of the age has changed drastically. Physically, you may be in first-class condition, but the mental state might be a problem.

    “Realive” is a grade-A SF with its “Oblivion”-like interiors and appearance. At the same time, it also raises a deep-philosophical topic about eternal life and postponing death. It’s not a futuristic machine like in “Elysium” that fixes imperfections and medical problems. It’s the evolution of medical technologies which makes it possible to perform medical interventions in an adequate way. But as the movie progresses, you notice that the movie contains a sophisticated romantic story as well. A story about a complicated relationship in which an eternal love is hidden. Marc and Naomi (Oona Chaplin) are having an on-again, off-again relationship for years now. And just as they come to the conclusion that they are made for each other, a deadly disease is the party pooper. From then on they know there’s no future for them as a happy, elderly couple.

    The film is fascinating enough but also extremely slow. Most of the film takes place in a clinically white, state-of-the-art facility where Marc awakens from his cryogenetic sleep. Not that he’s physically the same as in the past, because a lot of his body is being reconstructed with cloned bones, muscles and nerves. Only his brains and some vital organs are retained. He’s also connected to a high-tech device using a kind of umbilical cord. His new mechanical mother so to say. And thanks to the “Mind writer” he’s able to save parts of his memories. So be prepared to see a lot of flashbacks about his youth and the chaotic relationship with Naomi.

    Ultimately, you can say this movie is a modern “Romeo and Julia meets Frankenstein”. A film that deals with eternal love and the resurrection of a comatose person. I recently saw “The Lazarus effect” which had a kind of identical subject. Only the imaging of future medical techniques and treatments are created in a very convincing and realistic way. Unfortunately for Marc, emotional relationship between individuals in this futuristic world isn’t the same anymore. Eroticism and love are banished to foolish work-groups and are seen as something banal and unnecessary. I’m sure he didn’t expect that to happen. Both the outstanding performances of Tom Hughes and Charlotte Le Bon as caring nurse Elizabeth, as the philosophical moral, make “Realive” an engaging and emotional film at the same time. Maybe it’s indeed better for an individual’s existence to be limited to one particular era. Physiological issues can be circumvented and improved. It’s the mental state that can cause problems. So don’t expect a happy end in this movie.

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