Ryan Reynolds stars in Self/less. (Alan Markfield/Gramercy Pictures)
Death is an unavoidable part of life that thrusts a flood of emotions through our veins. Whether bearing witness to or experiencing the end of a life, there is no easy way to say goodbye. Self/less toys with the idea of continuing your own legacy with the help of a surrogate body.
When entrepreneurial mogul Damian (Sir Ben Kingsley) is faced with death and a crumbling relationship with his adult daughter (Michelle Dockery), he enlists the help of a mysterious Phoenix Biogenic that can provide a new and improved vessel (Ryan Reynolds) for his mind to continue his life for the better. In addition to the impressive monetary and scientific logistics of transferring a mind from body to body, a toll is taken on human emotion and instinct after the procedure for a whirlwind of action and suspense. Living Out Loud – Los Angeles met with some of the talent behind the film to get a deeper meaning into Self/less.
What is love? What would you do for love and whom do you truly love? Basic survival instincts teach us to dedicate ourselves to our children’s protection and well-being, but at what cost?
Madeline (Natalie Martinez) is left a widow when her husband donates his body to Phoenix Biogenic in exchange for enough funds to pay for his daughter’s overwhelming medical bills. The self-sacrifice allows a young, budding girl to carry out her future while Madeline is unwillingly forced to grieve a man gone too soon.
“How far would you go to save a life?” Martinez questions. “My mother would give her life up in a second in order for me to live a healthy and happy life.”
Her character takes on physical obstacles and emotional extremes in a battle for her family.
“I think love is really what makes us all fight for things,” she continues, “I feel like this movie is centered around love for others and for yourself.”
Where is the line? At what point is one person’s life greater than another? Great minds of the modern century are valuable and prized as irreplaceable farms of knowledge.
The upsetting death of Steve Jobs in 2011 shook the world as Apple unveiled Siri and the new iPhone 4S, which signaled a new leaf in growing technology without the spearheading mind behind it. If he hadn’t been stricken with cancer, could he have continued to invent world-changing products and software?
“It was a tragic, but also fascinating story,” screenwriter Alex Pastor reflects. The possible scenarios floating around his head in regards to Jobs inspired the Self/less story that he and his brother, David Pastor, wrote for cinematic release.
“It doesn’t matter how much money or power he has, that’s not going to save him, and nobody in the world would trade places with him. … What if there was a way you could buy extra time?” he asks.
Martinez adds, “[Damian] really was trying to reach out to his daughter, and trying to make a difference in the world. He still felt like he had something to live for.”
Is it better to tie up loose ends and leave knowing you gave all you had to give at the price of another’s chance to do the same, or to let nature run its course and leave your life behind?
Would you do it? If you were confronted with the choice to donate your body, would you? Or if you were dying but feeling short of reaching your potential, would you consider the body of another?
Director Tarsem Singh was drawn to the film for its conceivable thrills, but has also had to ask the questions of himself.
“If my whole thing was going to be that I could live in a young body, I would ideally like to be in my own body. If you could grow me from my teeth or my gums, then yeah. But if it was not in a lab, would I take another life? That’s a very important question. Right now, the answer is no,” Singh comments with an attitude of selflessness and a valid loophole.
But if the tables turned, he adds, “It might change. If suddenly I’m looking at a grandchild, and wish I could live longer, and there’s another person who I think is on the way out … I don’t know.”
Self/less is now in theaters.