Lifechanger Movie Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
Released by Uncork'd Entertainment
Written and directed by Justin McConnell
2018, 84 minutes, Not Rated
Released on December 5th, 2018
Laura Burke as Julia Wilson
Jack Foley as Robert
Elitsa Bako as Emily Roberts
Steve Kasan as Detective Freddie Ransone
Bill Oberst Jr. as Drew (voice)
Lifechanger follows Drew, a body jumping entity with a major dilemma: after years of swapping human vessel after vessel, decomposition arises just hours after a changeover. Throughout the film, while Drew is trying to understand why his bodies are rotting, we learn of his yearning for love via a barmaid named Julia. She is dealing with her own pain and despair, although Julia has no idea that all these people she meets at the local pub are really Drew inside. As time is running out on each body consumed, will Drew find solace in a world that could never understand his complexity?
After watching this complex character border the antihero trope, neither being a full-on protagonist or antagonist, I don’t know how I feel about Drew. The character at times can warm your heart, and then in an instant turn your blood ice cold. Just imagine survival consisted of having to literally suck the life from someone and leave his or her withered corpse behind, looking mummified and unrecognizable. And yes, Drew jumps from both men and women’s bodies, adding for some rare and sparse moments of comic relief.
Regardless of how I feel about Drew, there is no denying the sensation of hesitancy when relating to him. Life and death are inescapable, and that’s something the movie screams. We see our main character (who is never one set actor, which is unusual in a film) commit murders to keep his life going, and that is never a moral way of living or relating too. But then we see him consoling Julia, who is the most human character viewers will without a doubt have a connection to in the story. Whether you sit in a cubicle trying to figure out how we survive through the banality of the day-to-day life or you’re on the front lines of human depravity, murder is never plausible. That is the beauty of this tale, as it captures the human condition in lieu with Walter White from Breaking Bad or Tony Soprano.
Being an indie flick, the film has fantastic production values and looks cinematic, which is my usual quip when on a shoestring budgeted. There is no question about the tender love and care being poured in from the cast and crew here, but there is still something that the film lacks. More explanations as to what exactly Drew is and how he came about the life he has to endure. We get a tiny drop of backstory, but nowhere near enough to give Drew a full-fledged round character. Now, we don’t get full-on closure here, but another scene or two giving depth to the origins. Many critics and viewers are calling Drew a shape shifter, but I see him more as a skin walker. He can’t just change shape at free will, but instead has to take over a body and leave the corpse behind. Usually, shape shifters can switch on a whim and usually do not have to jump into another body. So what the hell is he exactly?
Aside from the yearning for more on Drew and his beginnings, that is not the point of Lifechanger. The film plays with a “magical realism” tone, something which reminds me of the literature of Gabriel García Márquez. The story isn’t meant to explain everything plot-wise, but rather allow you to fully immerse yourself in a “what would you do if you were this guy” situation, and viewers will judge him differently. This would make for an excellent short story or novel, as we’d really be able to get inside the head of Drew, rather than hear the rugged voice of the fantastic Bill Oberst Jr. narrating, but the film put-puts out at the end from a conflict/plot standpoint. Maybe if there were a definitive antagonist on his tail, trying to hunt him down or whatever to kick it up a notch or two. Regardless, it still works, as I like to trudge through and extract the bigger picture connection to humanity. Watching for what is on the plot’s surface is not where the treasure is buried, but rather hidden amongst the subtext, tropes and doors to important conversations about morality and survival.
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