01 November 2010

Review: Repo! The Genetic Opera

There are some works of human endeavor that present and represent ideas, whether good or bad. A philosophical treatise probably does so blatantly, whereas a piece of fiction or a work of art may do so more subtly. Repo! The Genetic Opera is a filmed rock opera that wrestles with such hefty themes as free will versus determinism, good versus evil, and the human condition. If I had to pinpoint just one Big Idea around which to wrap Repo!, however, I'd have to say that it provides the viewer with a pared-down but graphic view of the hideous realities of human trafficking. A bit of a stretch? Perhaps, but how else should I regard a production wherein human beings are clearly depicted as nothing more than sources of profit, and when the profit fails, the human beings are utterly dispensable?

Repo! is set in a bleak post-apocalyptic not-too-distant future. People can purchase organs if needed for survival or desired merely for some kind of upgrade. The leading organ company, GeneCo, eventually dominates the market and then the world. You get your organs on a financing plan, but if you miss a payment... your organ is repossessed! Who must perform the grisly work of repossession? Why would he or she stoop to do such a thing? Could there be any good in such a person? And could anyone love such a monster?!

We learn about the extremes to which some people must go for sacrifice and redemption, and how others rise above their seemingly omnipotent determinative genetics to seize opportunities to choose ultimate good (grace and forgiveness) above seductive evil. We also see that one can be the most powerful man in the world, but without love and respect given to or received from his children, he is revealed to be a pitiable fool with nothing for which he truly desires to live.

Repo! is not appropriate viewing for everyone. There is gore aplenty, although in truth, much of it is presented in a stylized, almost cartoonish, way. There is also some foul language, brief nudity, and a few rather suggestive scenes (although illicit sexual content is always presented as a hallmark of depravity, and not glorified as being desirable). Ultimately, however, a viewer should not see Repo! unless prepared to have heart and mind stirred to consider some truly heavy issues.

I would need to see Repo! again to appreciate more of the visuals and the musical score. There are some catchy tunes but most of the music is very tied to the narrative, so it is difficult to extract any particular song as being notable. I suspect that repeat viewings will remedy this, but for now, I can simply state that I found nothing unappealing about the musical stylings, and while not all performers were of the same caliber, all acquitted themselves at least competently, if not excellently. Standouts were Anthony Stewart Head, Alexa Vega, and Sarah Brightman, with special mention for Terrance Zdunich, who performed a pivotal role (the Graverobber) but also was one of the writers and composers.

1 comment:

meesh said...

So glad you appreciated it! Vincent & I along with a friend got to go and see it with a bunch of the cast right around when it came out and it was a spectacular experience. The music gets really catchy after a while (particularly anything with Tony Head & Alexa Vega....oh or Zdunich!) Every time I watch this, it gets a little more layered. I was also, surprisingly, impressed with Paris Hilton for allowing herself to look so ugly (both physically & otherwise).