Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” an awkward wedding night in “On Chesil Beach” starring Saoirse Ronan, “Birthmarked” with Toni Collette and Mathew Goode and a documentary on one of fashion’s leading figures, “The Gospel According to Andre.”
A science experiment with real world repercussions is at the heart of “Birthmarked,” a new comedy starring Toni Collette and Matthew Goode.
The action in the film begins with a simple, timeless question, “Could we have been anyone other than who we are?” Married scientists Ben (Goode) and Catherine (Collette) attempt to answer the question by staging a social experiment that they hope will once and for all determine what is more important in shaping young lives, nature or nurture.
In a remote cabin under very controlled circumstances Ben and Catherine, with the help of sex-starved Russian assistant Samsonov (Andreas Apergis), condition their kids to defy expectations. Their son Luke (Jordan Poole), their biological child is be raised as an artist. Two adopted children, daughter Maya (Megan O’Kelly), from a “long line of dimwitted people,” is trained as an intellectual while son Maurice (Anton Gillis-Adelman), adopted from a family with angry, aggressive ancestors, is taught the ways of peace and love. The artist. The brain. The pacifist. “No one is a prisoner of their genetic heritage,” says Ben, who “teaches” his kids unorthodox classes like Stimulated Self Expression.
Their carefully documented experiment takes a turn when their patron (Michael Smiley) demands results. “Remember our deal,” he says. “If this fails you owe me every cent I put into this.”
“Birthmarked” has the kind of low-key quirk that Wes Anderson has mastered. Unfortunately it eludes Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais. Example: “The use of a narrator is weak dramaturgy,” Ben says by way of criticism of his son’s play, in a movie with loads of narration.
You can imagine “Birthmarked” being given a freshening up by someone who looks past the character’s idiosyncrasies instead of embracing them. A little less cleverness might have left room for whatever humanity these characters possess. As it is the film never lifts off because Ben, Catherine and Company don’t feel like real people. They feel like characters thrown into an odd situation and not like people living in, and dealing with, a strange state of affairs.