COUPLE 3 FILMS (2020)
Director: Noah Hutton
Starring: Dean Imperial, Madeline Wise, Babe Howard, Ivory Aquino, Dora Madison
Fantasia Festival 2020 Selection
Noah Hutton’s feature debut Lapsis tells both a cautionary tale and an allusion to real-world events. It’s a world where the internet and computers have been revolutionised and if you find yourself behind the times technologically, you’ll find yourself being behind in many other aspects also – day-to-day aspects that the ‘haves’ are more than on top of. It’s a sci-fi look into the near future where robots and humans tentatively co-exist and contractors are caught smack in the middle.
For the revolution has allowed a new market to arise – one that involves workers pulling miles of cable across varying forested terrains from one conduit to another in return for attractive remuneration. However, the company that provides the work also monitors you via GPS, alerts you when you have permission to rest, to have a bathroom break and so on. Where do the robots come in? Well, if one of the automated cable carrying droids passes you en route, there goes your payment. It’s fair to say the odds are stacked in favour of the large, shiny companies. Lapsis follows Ray (Imperial) who, in an act of desperation very much against character, signs up to work as a ‘cabler’ in order to pay his brother’s medical bills. Whilst anyone is eligible to sign up for the work, only those who can obtain an elusive medallion get the gig and obtain one Ray does – via dodgy means that also come with dodgy conditions of the contract. Ray’s medallion once belonged to someone with the awesome name of Lapsis Beeftech, a name that provokes ire and anger from his fellow cablers and it’s this thread that provides the crux of Lapsis, the mystery at its heart. Who is/was Lapsis and why were they held in such disdain? The mystery drives the narrative along and is further aided by the introduction of Madeline Wise’s Anna who knows a lot about what’s really happening and how to cheat the system.
Hutton has a lot to say about corporations and their treatment of employees – especially contractors – and it’s hard not to think of the behemoths of the business world when watching this movie (Hi Amazon...Google...). The message and allegory isn’t entirely subtle but it works (and also doesn’t feel wildly out of the ordinary, sadly) and Hutton allows for characters to take a moment to talk with each other about the wider implications and ramifications of what their actions mean for themselves and the company – there’s some very decent dialogue throughout. Lapsis also looks good visually and is anchored by some very good lead performances from Imperial and Wise. For the most part, the movie manages to eschew many clichés and conventions associated with the genre (and similar future tech movies) and it remains fresh for the majority of the runtime – though the ending is up-for-discussion in terms of effectiveness.
Lapsis provides a very decent debut offering from Noah Hutton (who also wrote, edited and composed the movie) and one that remained engaging throughout its tight runtime. A solid mystery dancing with the very real fear of what might be around the corner and, sadly, issues that are very much here now – well worth a watch.
August 15th 2020