May 6, 2012

SFIFF55: Target (Mishen)

8:02 PM

Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

In 2020, the upper-class citizens in Target (Russian title Mishen) are obsessed with youth. Looking youthful and staying youthful. Not an incredibly unbelievable obsession for upper class citizens to have, or any citizen really, as we have always been constantly bombarded with miracle creams and surgical procedures to stay looking young.

We first meet Viktor, the Russian Federation's minister of natural resources, and his wife Zoya (Justine Waddell). Our first glimpse of Zoya is startling as her face is hidden behind a disturbing yet beautiful looking mask - a mask that we assume features special anti-aging technology when Viktor comments that in the two years she has used it, she hasn't aged a day.

Courtesy of San Francisco Film Society

Hints of advances in the future continue to be given in a variety of ways, from ads posted around Russia and topics that are discussed among the characters. Viktor use special glasses that measure the amount of good and evil in any inanimate object or even in a person. We also meet Zoya's brother, Mitya (Danila Kozlovsky), a TV host of a strange and over-the-top reality contest show that comes off as reality TV from today but on steroids.

Viktor reveals to his wife Zoya that he has a special trip planned for them. The trip and what it entails is kept a secret from Zoya and even the viewers as we only learn the details as she does. Mitya joins them on this trip and they first arrive to an isolated small town of 50 people not far from an abandoned astrophysics complex. Joining them is Nikolai (Vitaly Kishchenko), a customs official, and Anna (Daniela Stoyanovich), host of Mitya's favorite radio program Chinese for Dummies.

The group takes a private plane with guides from the town to the astrophysics complex. Upon entering it is explained that the radiation well - the Target - is a fountain of youth. That one night spent in the well will result in stop the process of ageing.

From there the film explores the changes in demeanor in each character and how their relationships change. Disposable income and the prospect of never ageing and thus the potential to never die is examined. Concepts pertaining to government, ethics, and the privileged also come into play, but with the film clocking in near 154 minutes it becomes difficult for the average film viewer to follow and stay engaged with the various splinters the plot decides to explore. At times it seemed even the film forgot where it was going with a plot line before jumping to another interesting plot line, and then the film would become unfocused yet again.

With mindful editing, Target would be one of the best films that utilizes sci-fi to examine the various concepts and drama it touches upon. It'll likely find at least a small following amongst art house film fans that can stick with the film despite the length - its exploration of how people react to "living forever" is indeed intriguing. Unfortunately, for most movie-goers, there are far too many moments in the film that drag on for too long, causing the film to flounder and ultimately making it difficult to stay interested.

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