Film Reviews

"Metropia" Animates a Gloomy – and Boring – Tomorrow

Tarik Saleh's Metropia paints a dismal and dejected picture of Western civilization 14 years from now — a society in crisis, nearly depleted of resources, leaving its citizens with shrinking motivations and aspirations.

The animated movie accentuates scenes of dark and polluted skies, dilapidated buildings, and message boards with propaganda encouraging people to "listen to the inner you." An omnipotent government wants civilians to listen to the voice in their heads because a dandruff shampoo has been developed to infiltrate their thoughts. Dandruff is unpleasant, but a corporatist regime transforming your thoughts after unassuming use of anti-flake shampoo is undeniably worse (although peculiar).

Gloomy yet oddly beautiful pictorial images are coupled with crude animation — highlighting a palpable chasm between character and audience. Animated subjects with rigid gaits, flat affects, and a paucity of emotional expression create a disconnect from the already bewildering plot sequence. The lead character, the hypervigilant Roger (voice of Vincent Gallo), attends to internal stimuli that he suspects are not of his own processes. While discerning individual thoughts from those imposed on him, Roger begins a quest to unveil the origin of his hijacked mind.

His suspicions lead him to Nina (voice of Juliette Lewis), the beautiful dandruff shampoo model who promises answers and truth. With Nina's help, Roger discovers that his long-standing paranoia isn't so far-fetched after all. The giant subway system below the earth linking all of Europe is controlled by a vicious organization, Trexx Corp., which intends to control the general public under the guise of peace and mobility.

This is where the convoluted and confusing story line may leave you scratching your head. If something can come from nothing, Metropia achieves this feat by eliciting a reaction from a plot lacking suspense, movement, or emotion. Perhaps that's the message in the end after all — it's better to have independent thoughts rather than ones imposed on you, even if these thoughts are disconsolate ones after 80 minutes of film-viewing boredom.

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Jamie Long
Contact: Jamie Long