Self/Less Parent Review
Solid performances bring to life this script, which offers a few well-placed twists and even some humor. This interesting story will also open a discussion about ethical issues in science.
Do you remember those old “mad scientist” movies where the madman places an electrical cap over two different brains and swaps their personalities? Doctor Albright (Matthew Goode) does just that in Self/less—the only difference is that he has a couple of modified MRI machines, which helps to make the process seem so much more… realistic?
As bizarre as it may sound, this story about Damien, an incredibly wealthy, aging man (played by Ben Kingsley) who transports his soul into a younger body (played by Ryan Reynolds), manages to have us believing this may very well be possible. Even more frightening, in an age of discussing the future of full body transplants, this film leaves us fidgeting over the ethical dilemmas that would ensue. And that appears to be the crux of the moral message in this thriller.
Unfortunately, there are some content issues that may have parents wondering if their teens should watch this second shot at life story. After transforming from a cancer-ridden sixty-something into a muscle-bound thirtyish guy (who looks a lot like Ryan Reynolds), Damien takes a few weeks to recoup in a fancy New Orleans flat. This includes exploring the nightlife, where he discovers his new virility acts as a magnet that attracts every woman he meets… and he meets a lot of them. Portrayals of sexual activity follow. During the first interlude we see a naked woman from behind and later from the side in silhouette. And then, in the interest of filmmaking efficiency, we are shown a rapid parade of happy female faces looking up from the bed.
However, even before his “recoupment” is complete, Damien begins to see visions of people in his mind. He doesn’t recognize any of them, and the scenes of war violence are particularly bothersome. Now, having a concern greater than satisfying his sexual desires, he endeavors to find the people and places that keep appearing within his mental images. This journey of self-discovery will place violence as the main concern in the latter half of Self/less. Unknown to our trusting protagonist, there are some bad dudes involved in this particular body swap. In consequence, the plot includes depictions of car chases, people shot on screen and hand-to-hand fighting with nasty breaking bone sound effects. Some blood effects are shown as a result of the carnage.
Solid performances bring to life this script, which offers a few well-placed twists and even some humor. This interesting story, which is likely appropriate only for older viewers, will probably also open a discussion about the continual medical advancements that science is determined to present.Directed by Tarsem Singh. Starring Michelle Dockery, Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release July 10, 2015. Updated May 13, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Self/Less here.
Self/Less Parents Guide
What makes up our personality? Do you believe it will be possible to transfer our “self” into another body?
In our society we generally fear aging and death. What would be fearful about living ten times longer? What are the benefits of aging in the same timeframe as those around us?
Learn more about full body transplants.
From the Studio: In this provocative psychological science fiction thriller, an extremely wealthy man (Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley) dying from cancer undergoes a radical medical procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man (Ryan Reynolds). But all is not as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body’s origin and the secret organization that will kill to protect its cause.(C) Focus