Dir: Tarik Saleh
Starring: Vincent Gallo, Julliette Lewis
Set in the year 2024, Metropia depicts a resource dry world that is controlled by a corporation who has linked existing subway systems into a giant network covering Europe. Roger (voiced by Gallo) is a disenfranchised worker who often suspects that something is not quite right with the world, and is plagued by a voice in his head. A chance encounter with fashion model Nina (Lewis) sets him on a journey to uncover the truth about how society is being controlled. Metropia is an unashamedly arty film.
The most striking thing about this film is the animation. By using digital photographs that have been altered to appear cartoonish and controlled like CG characters the film-makers have created a unique look, quite unlike anything previously seen. While this animation style is certainly impressive, and suits the mood of the film, it can often leave the viewer feeling uncomfortable – not unlike the the uncanny valley is trying to rape your very soul. The sex scenes are particularly awkward as it looks like realistic puppets have come to life and are dry humping.
Story wise the movie is begins with an interesting premise, treading familiar ground in the sci-fi genre. A few elements, such as people being monitored through their televisions, are lifted whole-heartedly from 1984, but it mostly resembles the works of Phillip K. Dick if they’d been stripped of their philosophical subtexts. Whilst the initial conspiracy set-up serves to draw the viewer in, when it is revealed halfway through that the population is being controlled via shampoo and people paid to be ‘voices’ in everyone’s head encouraging them to act a certain way, logic goes out the window and it becomes difficult to buy into any of it.
Not helping matters is the characters all being wholly unrelatable in both behaviour and physical appearance with all the leads giving slow, flat performances (the playback accidentally switched to half speed and it took literally 15 minutes before I noticed the difference). The narrative twists become predictable and it’s difficult to remain interested.
Ultimately Metropia will be of most interest to animation students and anyone who needs to fulfill an art-wank quota.
The Australian DVD: No features available on screener.
Thanks to Bill at Gryphon Entertainment for the copy.