This is probably my favorite scifi movie, despite it having no action and taking place mostly in one room. Or maybe because of it.
The story follows a group of college professors saying goodbye to a colleague who’s leaving. This colleague poses a situation which may or may not be real. As he spins his story, the others in the room question it and take it apart, until the veracity of his claim becomes a point of serious contention. They continue taking the story apart, but they start taking each other apart, too.
As for what this claim is? That a man could never die. That the leaving colleague, specifically, doesn’t die.
This movie relies on good storytelling instead of gimmicks, and it works. I had no idea dialogue and character interaction alone could float a story like this. But the discussion was just so engaging, I was completely caught up in it. The characters played off each other well, and I could see the contrast between what they wanted to believe.
Something about the passion with which the characters took to the story, the way it became important to them, the ideas they were throwing around–I imagine this is the kind of engagement oral storytellers might depend on to keep their audiences interested.
My only criticism is the ending, but it’s a very personal criticism. I’d rather they left the question open. I wanted to make up my own mind, one way or the other, about whether the claim was true or false. But they do answer it conclusively by the end, so that’s that. Honestly, I don’t know why I wanted this left open so badly. Somehow, it just felt right. Still, it’s a minor criticism, and plenty of other people would take that as a plus.
It’s been a while since I last saw it, and I could probably stand to rewatch it, see what I think about their theories now that I have more knowledge myself. Maybe I’ll find something I disagree with. Either way, it’s an engaging story built around a single “what if?” question.