eXistenZ

dir. David Cronenberg

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Cronenberg reboots Videodrome for the virtual age in this sci-fi thriller about a video-game designer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and her would-be protector (Jude Law) who plunge into the reality-warping dimensions of her new gameworld.

In a secluded rural location, journalists and eager gaming fanatics have gathered to witness the unveiling of the new project by superstar game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh): eXistenZ, a virtual-reality experience that requires the user to plug a semi-organic gaming pod into "bio-ports" that have been surgically inserted at the base of their spines. During the demonstration, Geller is attacked (and her master pod damaged) by a would-be assassin working for a shadowy group of "realists" who are out to destroy the gaming industry for its "deforming of reality." Rescued by security guard Ted Pikul (Jude Law), Geller insists that the two of them play eXistenZ in order to determine if the game has been irreparably damaged. Entering into the game world, the duo soon find that the line between reality and illusion is becoming dangerously blurred. Something of a return to the director's 1980s work in its reality-warping narrative, ingeniously icky biotechnological conceits and battle between corporate power and an underground army of culture-jammers, Cronenberg's first original screenplay since Videodrome brilliantly projects that earlier film's speculations on the relations between body, mind and media into the virtual age.