The Fly - Movie Review


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The Fly

Now, I realize that this review may be very delayed, especially considering that The Fly may now be 22 years old, but there's something about the movie that simply sticks with you afterward. This is especially true when the last time you saw it you were in kindergarten watching it after school with your older brother in your parents basement. Like I did. Was I subliminally affected by the sight of Jeff Goldblum vomiting on doughnuts while having his ears fall off? Most definitely. Is that a bad thing? Maybe yes, maybe no. But do I regret it? Never.

At its core The Fly is a remarkably simple premise. It's just about a guy who is gradually turning into a giant housefly. But just like an ultra gross version of Kafka's Metamorphosis, there's more to it than that. The movie is remarkably detailed, and for all that can be said about pseudo-science in movies, The Fly manages to make it convincing. The story, if you haven't heard it or seen it spoofed elsewhere, is that the scientist Seth Brundle has managed to assemble his very own teleportation device in his shabby apartment/laboratory. The notion isn't as far fetched as the fact that Professor Brundle keeps trying it out on what appears to be an endless supply of Chimpanzees. Where all the chimps are coming from, I can't tell you, but I can say what happens to them isn't always pretty.

Brundle, as a character, is an interesting one. The film begins immediately with him showing off his teleporters to female journalist Veronica, like a new car, except in this one all the passengers usually end up inside out. One day, to Brundle's delight, one of the chimps comes out of the other teleporter and is the right way in. And after sending Veronica home in a drunken stupor, he figures that he'll try it out on himself. Little does he realize, my friends, that yes, a fly went along with him.

The movie is science fiction, but somehow manages to cross-paths with a relational drama, absurd comedy, action film, and horror. Brundle is presented as not a mad scientist or villian, but as a man consumed by his passion in life, be that science, his relationship with Veronica, or the teleporters themselves. It becomes an exploration into the depths of addiction and disease, where someone goes from recognizable, to something entirely different. What the movie still wants to drive home, is that however different someone becomes, there is still someone trapped inside of there.

At its climax the movie collides with a mixture of emotions that, delivered all at once, make for one of the most heartbreaking and intense moments on screen. This is, I think, director David Cronenbergs finest achievement, and he doesn't make it easy for us either. How interesting are all of the dynamics he functions with. Are we supposed to hate Veronica's editor, or is he a relatively good guy who is still dealing with a jilted love interest gone wrong? Are we supposed to side with the relatively well-meaning Veronica or is she taking too many liberties of her own with her relationships and professional life? And Brundle, well, there's a whole lot of things to feel about Brundle. What's amazing here is that not a single character is bounded by the description of a protagonist or antagonist. Rather, they shift from one to another in a way that doesn't violate the viewers expectations as much as verify the humanity of the characters.

This is a great movie, and to be honest, I'm glad I saw it when I did.

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