Jun 12, 2010

REVIEW: Splice, a movie only a mother could love

So Adrian Brody is boffing his genetically-engineered mutant daughter, and in walks his girlfriend, Sarah Polley. He looks up aghast as she runs from the room. Cut to: their apartment, later in the day and he's trying to explain everything. I forget how the conversation goes exactly but it goes something like "I can explain". "Don't even try. To talk. Your. Way. Out of this." "Things got out of hand, I never meant..." Meant to what?" "We went too far..." etc etc. By which point the audience I was with at the Court Street UA cinema, largely African-American, were convulsed with hoots of laughter, their worst suspicions about white parenting confirmed. The scene got what it deserved: there is no script-writer on earth who could have supplied the lines of dialogue sufficient to the task of mending fences with a partner after you have boffed your genetically-engineered mutant daughter. Particularly not if the actor delivering those lines is Adrien Brody, whose Whistleresque frame seems to stiffen upon contact with anything resembling b-movie material (he was the weak link in Peter Jackson's Kong, and promises more of the same in Predators). And yet I liked and admired Splice. I've a soft spot for transformation movies — anything that approximates the tracking of a life cycle. The daughter-creature is wonderfully imagined, with long, deerlike legs and a big soft cranium, like a cross between Sinead O Conner and an antelope, and she moves a little self consciously at times, like a teenager, embarrassedly tucking her tail under her dress. For much of the movie I was having intense Alien flashbacks, particularly to the third movie, where Ripley and the alien get to spend such quality time together, and flashbacks-within-those-flashbacks to Cronenberg's The Brood, which said all I thought could be said on the darker seams of parental love. Splice finds more wiggle room and worms down further. It's deeply ridiculous at times but it's onto something — its little forehead pulses. C+


  1. Perhaps next time you may want to consider not revealing a major plot point in the very first line of a review.

  2. Oh please! As if you couldn't figure out that plot point from the trailer.

  3. It wasn't a perfect movie by any means and it certainly wasn't one of my favorites in recent years, but I enjoyed it. If I had to compare it to his earlier work, Cube, I would have to say that Cube made a much more lasting impression.