Realive is a science fiction drama about a busy, successful young man with a great life who is suddenly diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. In the process of trying to prepare for his own death, he decides to have his body frozen after he dies and cryogenically preserved in order to be resurrected when medical technology achieves the means. Much of the story takes place in “present day” and the rest of it in 2084, with scenes swapping between the two timelines for most of the film. It is not an action film and those who prefer introspective, quiet movies will appreciate the slow pacing of the film, while those who crave action scenes and explosions might end up getting bored.
The story is about Marc Jarvis, played by Tom Hughes, who is forced to struggle with terminal brain cancer and tries to weigh the benefits of living as long as humanly possible in a slowly dying body with the nebulous and unlikely potential of being resurrected after death in the far future. The film is told mostly from Marc’s point of view with quite a bit of voiceover as he describes his life and his interpretation of events. As is obviously inferred by the title of the movie, Marc does get resurrected and watching Marc come to terms with the changes and nuances of his new life, especially in comparison with his old life, is what makes up most of the story.
I found the acting in Realive to be quite good, especially by Tom Hughes, who had to play a very complicated role, from a healthy, robust, successful man to a man slowly dying, to a complete invalid. I never found him to be unbelievable at any point and he portrayed a good range of emotions. Likewise, his love interest, Naomi (Oona Chaplin) was always vibrant and full of life. She was probably my favorite character and it was easy to believe that Marc would be in love with her. I also really liked the handsome and charismatic Dr. West, who was this film’s Dr. Frankenstein. His motivations felt very real to me and he never gave off the “evil scientist” vibe that you end up expecting during every scene he was in, and I found that to be refreshingly unpredictable. My least favorite character was Elizabeth, whom I thought was emotionless and dull. I would have preferred her to be a bit more like Naomi, as that would have given the watcher a few more options to consider while watching Marc’s story.
This movie really makes you think. People often talk about living forever without really considering what that would mean. So many questions are proposed during the course of this film with no answers given, probably because the answers would be different for every single person watching. It touches on human essentials: What is life? What makes life worth living? What is love? Do we believe love should be our reward for suffering? These concepts and more are touched upon without any judgemental pressure. Religious aspects were not touched on at all, which I found to be a good choice mainly because it allowed the film to focus on the science only: Should we really attempt to bring people back to life? The addition of a religious or spiritual element would have added too much material to be addressed in a two-hour time frame.
I loved the concept of the film and the overriding sense of otherness. The futuristic portions were well done, with believable sets and costumes, and it was completely obvious when the film flashes back and forth from past to future. The musical score complimented the wistful, introspective setting. I could have done without the opening scene, which is a very graphic live birth, and there are a few scenes of graphic violence that are rather horrific. It is very thought-provoking and delivers some excellent one-liners. The overriding theme seems to be to live life to the fullest because even if there is something else after you die it won’t be the same something. You can never get back what you have right now.
My main bone of contention with Realive is that I found resurrected Marc to be dull and unmotivated, which is odd considering he built a hugely successful business for himself prior to his death. Perhaps his reanimation stripped him of that drive? I also predicted the ending almost exactly and was hoping for something different just so I could be surprised.
As a fan of nearly every sort of movie, I enjoyed many parts of Realive and found the concept and the questions provoked to be engaging and interesting. I give it four of five bananas.