Retrospective Film Review: Benedek Fliegauf’s Womb

Trimmed from the same cloth as Eva Green’s later slice of bleak sci-fi – David Mackenzie’s Perfect Sense that I championed way back in 2011 – Womb is a similar tale of a love tested under extraordinary conditions.

Green plays Rebecca, a woman who’s reunited with her childhood love, political activist Tommy (Matt Smith), after twelve years of separation, only to instantly lose him in a traffic accident. Utilising the very tech he was campaigning against, Rachel decides to clone Tommy and carry the foetus herself. The clinical tone and über-reserved style, aided by the beautifully desolate beachscapes of Germany’s north sea coast and some purposefully laboured dialogue, might make this film a reach too far for some, but for the most part, it eschews Oedipal melodrama for some eerily fragile moments.

Smith doesn’t quite manage to unbind himself from the good Doctor and Green does the borderline psychotic shtick better than anyone, but it’s an effective and rather chilling story. There’s a clever sound design too by Tamás Beke which utilises Aliens-like synthetic wind and low frequency rumbles that seem to blend the sound of local crashing waves with ultrasound-style underwater-filtering. It’s also good to see a film about cloning start from the beginning, questioning the politics and reasoning behind it, rather than jumping in in media res when their existence is already a given, like most sci-fi that deals with similar thematic material. A thoughtful and unsettling film.