In sales, appearances are everything, but they’re only part of a good story.
Jose Nestor Marquez’s modest sci-fi-tinged drama Reversion, a sequel of sorts to a TV movie called Isa that came out last year, has the sleek, hollow feeling of luxury retail. It follows a tech mogul’s daughter, Sophie (Aja Naomi King), as she helps her father prepare to launch a revolutionary new product. The device, known as the oubli (a French word that can be translated as “oblivion”), is a thin, elegantly molded piece of metal attached to an app that offers a gentle immersion in a bath of pleasant memories. It’s a fleeting thing, intended to increase the user’s sense of well-being. But the feeling of uncertainty extends into Marquez’s writing and imagery, which rely so much on ambiguity and ambience that even Sophie’s eventual shocks of realization pack a weak punch.
As you might guess, Sophie’s father (Colm Feore) and his company have been engaging in other, less public, activities: The oubli turns out to be only one of several “research and development” angles masterminded by a retired engineer (a panting, contemptuous Amanda Plummer). The implications of the oubli itself get pushed to the side as the film invests more in Sophie’s drive toward the truth about her past. Getting there, she relies on the sudden arrival of Isa (Jeanette Samano, reprising the role in a much reduced capacity) and the skills of her dull, hunky valet, Ayden (a wooden Gary Dourdan).
As for its vaguely sinister, conceptually ambiguous title — well, there’s another film with that name coming out next year. Though mildly engaging, this Reversion doesn’t delve deep enough to distinguish itself, and by that time, most viewers will have forgotten it.
Directed by Jose Nestor Marquez
Opens October 9, AMC Empire 25
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 6, 2015