Fantastic Fest 2010 Review: TRANSFER

J.C. De Leon

by: J.C. De Leon
September 24th, 2010

Rating: 2/5

Writers: Elia Barceló (story), Gabi Blauert (screenplay), Damir Lukacevic (writer)
Director: Damir Lukacevic
Cast: B.J. Britt, Regine Nehy, Ingrid Andree, Hans-Michael Rehberg, Mehmet Kurtulus

Death is inevitable for us all. While some would like to live forever, some prefer to go when it’s their time. Those are the only two philosophies people have when it comes to death, mostly because there are simply no other options. TRANSFER, however, asks the question, "what if there were a way to prolong life?” It’s an extremely intriguing idea, and one that started out with boatloads of promise, but never executed the story to its merit.

The story of TRANSFER constructs a future in which the poor, yet genetically gifted, are handpicked to one day be host to different clients’ personalities. At the start of the process, the personalities of the clients are transferred to the young, healthy bodies for a few hours each day, and at night, the actual personalities of the hosts are put back in their original bodies. Our story opens up with Hermann and Anna Goldbeck (Hans-Michael Rehberg and Ingrid Andree). They are one of the most adorable, loving elderly couples you will ever see on screen, and their chemistry together is amazing. Hermann and Anna are at the facility where the procedure will take place. They are overlooking the two specimens (the male named Apolain, and the woman named Sarah) who will be host to their personalities and they get to ask whatever questions they may have.

Apolain (B.J. Britt) and Sarah (Regine Nehy) are African refugees who have accepted a promise given by the company that offers the procedures (Menzana) that their families will be given 10% of the money paid by the clients for the use of their body. Apolain and Sarah get paraded around in their underwear to make sure they look good enough, are tall enough, have the right teeth. All superficial prejudgements are made at this moment as to whether or not the client should put his personality in this person. This is where the movie begins to lose its original, bigger focus and begins to lock on to something else. That something else is so extremely trivial given the big picture circumstances of what exactly is happening in this film that TRANSFER begins to fall apart.

In addition to the misguided focus, the parallel storylines of four people occupying two bodies becomes too confusing and viewer sympathy switches way too often for it to be effective in any way. There are a few instances where Hermann hates the idea of his personality being inside a black man, but then wants to help Apolain’s family more than Menzana is helping them, yet he then goes back to hating not only the idea, but Apolain himself. The biggest upside to this film is the relationship brought about by Anna and Sarah; they as a single unit have the most compelling and interesting parallel story of the four people.

What starts out as an incredibly interesting idea very quickly fizzles to a predictable ending, and an overall flat feature with some very thought-provoking questions. Unfortunately, the questions the viewer will ask will be questions the director and writers should have been asking themselves to engineer a stronger overall story with much better execution.

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