Advantageous (2015)
July 6, 2015 7:39 AM - Subscribe

In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter Jules do all they can to hold on to their joy together, despite the instability surfacing in their world.

Mr. Thumbscrew and I watched this on Netflix this weekend, and it absolutely bowled us over... after the end credits, we couldn't stop blurting, "Oh my god, holy shit, I want to watch it again RIGHT NOW!" We knew it looked intriguing, but we had no idea it would affect us so strongly. It's not big, it's not flashy, there are no explosions or insane CGI graphics. It's subtle, thoughtful, and devastatingly effective. It's also refreshingly female-centric... the women in this film are fully-realized individuals with nuances and backstory, NOT merely a collection of several broad personality traits.

Has anyone else checked it out yet?...
posted by julthumbscrew (10 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I watched it and loved it and wanted to tell everybody else to go watch it. I thought about it for days afterwards. Just, beautifully done. The world-building, the relationships, even the soundtrack. I loved the political upheaval that you only see hints of and the sharp contrast of all that desperation underlying the veneer of wealth. I loved that it's a dystopian film that focuses on love and ends on a small, personal, hopeful note of sorts.

There was a scene I watched over and over and still couldn't really understand. About 20 minutes in, Gwen is talking on the phone with Drake, and he gets hostile in a pretty personal way that seems to go beyond "hey, your resume has been flagged" (e.g., "I'm sorry?" "Are you? Sorry?"). The conversation immediately turns to whether or not he is human, and Gwen says "I didn't know." I'd be curious to hear anybody else's take on that conversation.

I'm really glad to see this posted to FanFare, and look forward to reading what other people thought and observed.
posted by moira at 10:18 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, as a mother of a daughter, this hit pretty close to home emotionally.
posted by moira at 10:25 AM on July 6, 2015

I'd be curious to hear anybody else's take on that conversation.

I thought the implication was that AI/voice recognition is still slightly off, so it throws out a canned response (the star sign quip) in order to deflect a question it can't answer.
posted by GenericUser at 10:42 AM on July 6, 2015

I got the impression that Drake was a semi-sentient 'bot (capable of emotions, maybe, but NOT quite Turing test-ready).

MY biggest current question: what was the deal with that weird small room where Gwen took off her shoes and cried (guarded by the weird guy who asked her if she needed company)? I'd had a few drinks, so it's possible I missed something, but I was not entirely sure what was happening there.
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:42 AM on July 6, 2015

My take on the room was that it was a tiny, hourly hotel room (which apparently provides "company" if needed). I assumed she didn't want to go home to have a cry, with her daughter there.
posted by moira at 10:53 AM on July 6, 2015

My husband loves this and told me I had to see it.

So I watched it. And I liked it, and it was very interesting, but a bit slow going for me personally. However, I tend to like slow-going movies, so I think it's just that I'm tired. And I've watched too much Community, so any time Ken Jeong shows up anywhere, I just go "Chang! What did you do?"


There was so much fantastic world-building going on in the background too. I want to know what the hell is going on that all these women are unemployed. I want to figure out why there are two women living beside them that keep crying. I want to know how developed an AI Drake is (I've spent too much time with Chatbots to not recognise an AI when it's on the phone) and whether all PAs are actually AIs now, or just recruitment agencies.

I want to know what the hell the Eastern luncheon committee is up to - are they seriously plotting a eugenics program through prep school, because that's what it sounded like to me.

I have a feeling this will be a film I will keep on thinking about.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:39 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

And I've watched too much Community, so any time Ken Jeong shows up anywhere, I just go "Chang! What did you do?"

After Venture Bros. and New Vegas, seeing James Urbaniak's character being against the dangerous untested medical procedure was a little unexpected.
posted by GenericUser at 7:57 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would have enjoyed seeing a bit more of the working classes who had found themselves priced out of the city.

That said, largely omitting that put a weird undercurrent of dread behind her fears of losing her income and status: she and her daughter would effectively disappear if they couldn't afford their place in the hierarchy.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:35 PM on July 7, 2015

We watched this after I spotted this thread and I'm glad we did. The intro copy and image on Netflix does a spectacularly bad job of indicating what the film is actually about, so I would have missed it otherwise. It is a gorgeously put together and deeply affecting film. Everyone in it absolutely acts their socks off.

And from an SF nerd point of view, it's really refreshing to see a film set in the future that focuses so strongly and effectively on the human effects of changing societal pressures and new technologies, without making it about the technologies directly. Films like this really succeed, I think, when you find yourself asking how you would react in the same situation and begin to identify with the impossible choices the future may present us with.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:57 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, nice worldbuilding - I'm sure I would have enjoyed that if I hadn't been constantly screaming inside.

I mean, I've seen horror films that have been less disturbing! That relentless, quotidian, low-key despair really got to me. And the manipulation and the body-losing terror. And the protagonist slowly coming to the realization that she has no options and everyone just goes *shrug*. And even the quiet anxiety and hopelessness of the overworked child before their lives change... To be followed by a massive sad. It's like someone went "let's make a movie that will keep sively up at night".

I mean, it was really good, but crikey.
posted by sively at 10:32 AM on March 10, 2016

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