Blade Runner 2049 06.10.17
I sat there in the full auditorium thinking about me as I often do during the special films. Then again, it's difficult not to with a film about cyborgs, when you're transgender and you witness again that born-in-middle-age imagery. When you realize the Grail in the plot is the discovery that cyborgs might be able to give birth – and therefore attain a new human legitimacy – the connections grow stronger still, from a wistful perspective.
Which isn't to say I understood the story completely or think it's the greatest film that's ever been made. Blade Runner 2049 is both slow and beautiful – hypnotic if it gets you in the right mood, dragged out and slightly confusing if you're not. I felt the full gamut of these reactions, as if I were slipping between states of awakenness as the film unfurled. I got what the protagonist – played by Ryan Gosling – is trying to do, as the plot line slowly emerges like one of the film's many buildings enveloped in the sandstorms. He's haunted by one particular dream, from a childhood he knows he never had – his character is a cyborg hunting cyborgs – but during the film's many scenes of hazes and shadows, he begins to see himself as part of a bigger picture. He learns about a human called Deckard, who had loved a cyborg woman. A brother and sister were born, one of them dying. Humans want the former child found and destroyed, it's his job to do so, to kill the thing that demonstrates his own potential humanity.
This much I think I understand. The plot line with a cyborg agent was a little less clear – does she want the human, Deckard, dead? Perhaps I wasn't always paying attention, it's the kind of film that can draw you into a trance.Settings and soundtrack are much of this film, conjuring all kinds of atmosphere, sometimes shimmering and golden to gentle ripples of water. Sometimes deadening, or mechanical, or just lonely. The lead character's love affair with a virtual intelligence brought to life via hologram is strangely affecting. This is a tawdry world where any kind of love is a miracle worth clinging to. I felt I was getting a glimpse of the capitalist future, of the world having eaten itself, an arid climate that's suffocating and encroaching and everyone's alone and slightly detached, existing without joy in overcrowded cities. Yes it's been done before, not least in the original Blade Runner movie (1982). The plot was clearer in that origin story, and the characters more charismatic, but the stilted and restrained individuals of this sequel are no less effective for what they encapsulate, for what the film encapsulates without killer dialogue or an iconic scene, a humanity glimpsed through its fragile near-absence.