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Monday, May 17, 2010

METROPIA

By D.E.Levine

A Tribeca Film Festival selection

Director: Tarik Saleh
Writer: Fredrik Edin and Tarik Saleh (screenplay); Fredrik Edin, Martin Hultman and Tarik Saleh (story)
Cast: Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgard, Alexander Skarsgard, Sofia Helin, Shanti Roney, Fares Fares, Fredrik Eddari et al.
Producer: Kristina Aberg
Co-producers: Gunnar Carlsson, Elin Erichsen, Tomas Eskilsson, Mikael Olsen and Eric Vogel
Assistant Producers: Tobias F. Dahl, Johanna Mikolajczyk and Hanna Storby
Line Producer: Jon Wigfield
Original Music: Krister Linder
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Country of Origin: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Animation/Sci-Fi/Thriller

Metropia is a sleek and totally fascinating animated science fiction film. This is a truly ambitious endeavor that took four years to achieve.

The cast never appears onscreen but instead do the voices of the characters in this computer-animated feature.

The central figure is Roger, who lives with his wife, in an unappealing apartment in Sweden, in the year 2024. The landscape is desolate, bleak, depressing and appears mostly in gray tones. Roger is unhappy with his job, his home and his life.

Oil supplies have run out in Europe and a company called Trexx Corp has linked all the European subways together. Trexx Corp. actually owns most of society and its head has developed a very unique way to control peoples' thoughts and actions.

Roger begins to hear a voice in his head. Initially, the voice claims to be his conscience but Roger remains unconvinced.

The voice turns out to be that of Stefan, who is able to speak directly into Roger's head. Stefan is linked mysteriously to Nina, the beautiful girl on the, dishonesty bottle of dandruff shampoo (also owned by Trexx Corp.)

Nina, in turn, is the girl of Roger's fantasies. He sees her on the bottle of shampoo, on billboards, on television commercials, in dreams and finally in the subway.

Nina reveals to Roger the ingenious way that microchips have been implanted into his brain and that Stefan is one of the people who monitor him and other people who have implanted microchips.

Nina has plans to use Roger for her own purpose, which she doesn't reveal to Roger. However, in true thriller fashion, we see that everyone is disposable and replaceable in order to achieve the desired end result. Furthermore, there seems to be no end of greed and dishonesty among the characters.

The animation method for this feature is unusual as the sharply defined faces of characters were made from photos of random people taken on the street. Character movements are a bit stilted and the characters themselves frequently lose focus and become distracted from their original purpose. Another weakness is that there are basically American voices for the characters, which seems strange for a film whose characters are Swedish.

Additionally, the viewer must also assume the trains are super fast since the characters are able to travel easily from Sweden to Paris and back in a short span of time (normal train time is approximately 10 hours each way).

Despite the flaws in this film it's unusual, innovative and inspired. While the story line and method can stand some improvement, the ingenuity and creativeness let this film stand apart from others.