'LX 2048': Film Review

LX 2048
Courtesy of Chimera Pictures and Out Of The Bloc

James D'Arcy in 'LX 2048'

Another serious-minded take on questions we'll likely face sooner than we think.
9/25/2020

James D'Arcy plays a dying man confronting strange post-death options in Guy Moshe's sci-fi drama, which also features Delroy Lindo.

A solid entry in a genre that's likely to see exponential growth over the next few years, Guy Moshe's LX 2048 explores how hypothetical advances in virtual reality, cloning, AI and the digitization of biological brains will change the way humans deal with familial and romantic relationships. Yes, that's a long list of sci-fi topics, and we haven't even mentioned the picture's takes on climate change, pharmaceuticals and demographic shifts.

But while the film can sometimes feel overstuffed, Moshe's script credibly grapples with changes that are, after all, well underway in the real world — and lead James D'Arcy embodies the anxieties and self-righteousness of a man fighting to retain some grip on the increasingly shaky concept of "real" life.

D'Arcy's Adam Bird is a father of three at a time (the year 2048) when most people have accepted that bringing children into existence isn't the kindest or smartest thing to do. Recognizing the need for young workers to support an aging populace, the government has established a novel insurance program called Premium 3, for parents of three children or more: If you or your spouse die during your child-rearing years, a clone will take your place. One with all the memories and knowledge required to raise those kids. And to sweeten the deal for your grieving partner, he or she has the option to do a little "tailoring" of the replacement, making the new you better looking, more attentive, or smarter.

Even before she caught him having sex with a virtual lover (a crude sex doll connected to an enticing AI he can see through virtual reality goggles) and kicked him out, Adam's wife, Reena (Anna Brewster), probably had thought of plenty of little tweaks she'd make to her husband.

While nearly all humans have shifted to nocturnal living, staying away from a sun now so fierce it burns skin instantly, Adam insists on working during the daytime. He also prefers face-to-face interaction over meeting people in The Realm, a VR world where others spend nearly all their time. And he won't take his daily dose of LithiumX, the pill everybody else uses to numb endemic depression. So when Adam learns he has terminal heart disease, he surely realizes the news won't be completely bad for his estranged wife.

Assuming, that is, he can help his company stay afloat long enough to keep the insurance policy valid. He works in VR, an industry that's dying because "everything's going chip now" — moving to a purely digitized future in which consciousnesses exist only in computers.

That's not quite the end of the film's required exposition, but we've reached the point at which further synopsis would ruin some of the drama. Pretty ill-at-ease to begin with, Adam grows increasingly desperate as he tries to convince the embittered Reena to sit down for an "I'm dying" heart-to-heart.

In his pursuit of ways to deal with what's happening, he locates "the father of human cloning," Delroy Lindo's Donald Stein, and learns that there may be even more options than he has considered. Adam might be able to bring his AI lover, Maria (Gabrielle Cassi), into the physical world. Programmed to adore him, at least she could comfort him through his illness. Or might he join her instead, living blissfully on a chip?

Viewers with a low tolerance for sci-fi may well be content with the way more polished recent productions (from several Black Mirror episodes to Blade Runner 2049) have grappled with most of these ideas. For many of the rest of us, though, the topics addressed by this and other low-budget indies (like Gavin Rothery's Archive and Michael Almereyda's Marjorie Prime) deserve even more contemplation than they're getting — both in immediate, policy-making terms with respect to AI, data-gathering and big tech, and in the more ruminative way that sci-fi makes possible.

While LX 2048 isn't equally satisfying on all fronts, it's more than successful enough to add to the where-are-we-going? syllabus.

Production companies: Chimera Pictures, Lituanica Films
Distributor: Quiver Distribution
Cast: James D'Arcy, Anna Brewster, Gabrielle Cassi, Delroy Lindo
Director-screenwriter: Guy Moshe
Producers: Guy Moshe, Karolis Malinauskas, Linas Pozera, Matthew G. Zamias, Pedro Tarantino
Executive producers: Dragos Vilcu, Egidijus Jakavonis
Director of photography: thomas Buelens
Production designer: Paulius Seskas
Costume designers: Flore Vauville, Jouzas Valenta
Music: Sarah Decourcy, Ian Richter, Erez Moshe
Editor: Guy Moshe
Casting: Daniel Hubbard

103 minutes