This one took me by surprise. Really did not expect what this film had to offer.
And the interesting thing is that you didn't realize it until you are so wrapped in it that everything else goes away.
Essentially, the story make illusions to what happened during Apartheid. I will admit that this is a section of history that I know next to nothing about. So, it didn't mean much to me at first. Still, immediately, you understood the overall meaning of the film. It is explained that about 20 years ago an alien ship settled over Johannesburg. Long story short, the aliens were granted assylum, but lived in less than 2nd class status. The story actually gets going with a man named Wikus getting the job of serving eviction notices to all the aliens (who are living in an assigned ghetto) as a relocation plan to a "better" reservation outside of the city.
This is a hard movie to talk about without revealing too much, so SPOILER ALERT folks. Stop reading now if you don't want it ruined.
The brilliancy of the film is not in the story - because the story is pretty typical. For musical theatre lovers, think what happens in 'Finian's Rainbow' and you have it. Winkus is exposed to a special substance, which is slowly causing him to transform into an alien. Meanwhile, he has become the most wanted man in the world - and for reasons I will not go into, everyone wants a piece of him. Now, a fugitive, he is forced to hide amongst the aliens, thereby confronting his racism.
What I liked about this film: It was not single sided. You felt for the aliens, but it was also frustrating as hell to watch because it seemed like most of them didn't want to help themselves. They were not perfectly innocent - no one was. The hero was bigoted, and had to learn, in a hard, terribly cruel way, a lot of lessons. Which, by the way, the lead actor was talented! That was some pretty phenomenal acting. You thought he was a dork, then you hated him, then you felt incredibly sorry for him - and then you kept going back and forth as the movie went on. But always, I was riveted by him. That says something to his talent. All the acting was great. Even by those who were not human, which I guess just means that they were written incredibly well. It didn't end what you would call happily, but there was some hope. It was real - for as much as it was science fiction. Great alleory.
But what I think I liked most was how much you felt for all sides. With some proper exceptions, I could feel for almost every ... thing ... portrayed in this film. I understood (almost) everyone's motivations, reasons, complaints, pros and cons.
It was not something I would want to own - it's a little too hard of a film for me to particularly enjoy, but I have a lot of respect for this film.
It is definately is one that I think everyone should see at least once.
4 out of 5 stars