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Fantastic Fest: Transfer


Directed by  Damir Lukacevic
The proposition is this:  Say you are old and fragile–you may in fact die soon–and you are in everlasting love with your spouse.  Perhaps you never got to have that child and the time to do so has long since passed.  Here’s where the Menzana corporation comes in: For a hefty-but-reasonable fee of 1 million euros, you can enter the body of a young African refugee whose family will then receive 10% (well almost 10%) of your fee. Catch you ask? Well, for four hours in the middle of the night, the body’s owner will wake up.  But don’t worry, you won’t even know they were there.
This is the set-up for German director Damir Lukacevic’s new film, Transfer.  The film tells the tale of a very sick Anna (Ingrid Andree) and her husband, Herman (Hans-Michael Rehberg) undergoing the titular procedure and entering the bodies of Sarah (Regine Nehy) and Apolain (B.J. Britt), respectively. The actors all do well in their roles, and Nehy and Britt deserve credit for making the whole thing believable. They don’t pull off anything astounding, but they are both skilled enough to distinctly convey two different personalities. Naturally, the idea of old white people inhabiting young black people is rife with metaphor, and the film makes constant reference to this fact. What keeps the film from becoming didactic or unrealistic, though, is the humanity and love inherent in Anna and Herman.  They are exceptionally good people, if well off, even as they tread on very questionable moral territory with the aid of a little philanthropic denial.
While the film is compulsively watchable and philosophically intriguing for much of its run, it does take a long while going nowhere in particular.  The twists and turns that you expect are here, but to unsatisfying ends. For instance, it’s a fantastic idea to (spoiler) introduce pregnancy into the foursome’s odd situation, and the characters discuss it at nauseam, but none of them are tasked with any particularly difficult decisions. The film winds up being an interesting thought experiment filled out with a lovely and nontraditional, if not dramatically compelling, romance at its center.
Emmet Duff

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