Lapsis : ‘Fantasia’ Review – An intelligent satire on Corporate Greed & the didactic allure of Capitalism
Lapsis Movie Review: The more time you spend in Noah Hutton’s carefully constructed world, the more interesting it becomes. There’s no lag in the way he twists his premise to conjure up surprises one after the other. In doing so, he quietly transforms what feels like a high-concept genre film into a real and urgent metaphor about the contemporary world.
Set in a parallel present where Quantum computing has become a necessity, Lapsis follows Ray (Dean Imperial) – an everyday joe too laid back to accept the changes in the world. Often stuck with parking-tickets just because he doesn’t have one of those essential Quantum computers to know the town scheduling, Ray has been having second thoughts about buying into the upgrade. He has a blue-collar job at the airport where he deals with lost luggage. For now, he has been doing okay. However, the emergence of a mysterious new chronic fatigue that has plagued his younger half-brother needs instant attention.
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Seeing how his brother will need urgent expensive care in a facility, Ray succumbs to trying out the cabling gig that has been the talk of the town. This supposedly high-paying, instant-money venture requires intensive physical effort from the part of the ‘cabler’ (read: laborer). Unable to figure out a way to treat his brother better, Ray takes up the task of physically laying down the cable in high-terrains within the woods. The idea of the company is to expand its quantum-future to unreachable places.
This is where the world-building of Noah Hutton comes to play. Each cabler is assigned a pseudo name along with an indicator integrated with the smartphone that signals them their tracks while also alarming scheduled times when they can take rest. They have to carry a cart that they have to physically move while competing with an automated bot that is also doing the same job. New cablers are assigned ‘medallions’ to earn points on the basis of the time they take on each track and thus moving up the ladder slowly and gradually.
Ray who has taken up the gig through a middle-man is also assigned a medallion. Surprisingly, his medallion is loaded with pre-earned points which lead him to rise up through ranks in quicker succession. Co-cablers, on the other hand, have been suffering from the lack of health care and other positive aspects of the job that has turned them into farm-animals. The competition and other scary aspects of the job have also led all of them into finding illegal tactics that can help them stay afloat.
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Lapsis is a small scale sci-fi fable that constantly keeps you jumbled in its extensive world-building. The upside is, it never makes you feel like you are visiting an alternative world. In fact, the premise and setting serve as a perfect analogy of the world we are currently live in. For people who enjoy genre films, there’s an excess of elements that keep you on the edge of your seat. However, it never lags and always manages to root you into it’s grounded reality. For the thinkers, it also serves as a scathing satire on corporate greed & the didactic allure of capitalism.
Ray is presented as a guy who is just keeping his life afloat until he simply couldn’t. The reason for him succumbing to the capitalistic nature of the world comes from his vulnerability. While we don’t understand why he chooses to not upgrade himself, we understand his motivations thereafter. From where I see it, Ray represents the section of our society that somehow gets by without having to learn all the new changes that the modern world throws their way. For once, he can be considered as a labor in the real world. His blue-collar job offers him pennies worth of cash but he is okay with it.
That is until necessity arrives. He is actually forced out of his shell to take care of his ailing brother. The ‘strange fatigue’ that plagues the town is basically a cunning hook towards the healthcare system and how it takes advantage of people who don’t know better. Similarly, the competition with the automated bots to switch to better routes and gaining browny points is clearly indicative of the corporate struggle of going up and down the ladder. This is not where Lapsis ends, though. It is constantly inventive and imaginative. It also investigates the dog-eat-dog world through a sharp and interesting metaphor.
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The premise gets even more interesting when Ray meets Anna. Unable to withstand the facade of having to compete with an automated bot and sacrificing his rest, Ray forms a close friendship with her as they are on the same trail for the time being. As the privilege enjoy their technological advanced existence, Ray & Anna try to find a way to coax the bots so that the ill-treatment of the working class comes to a stop. Noah Hutton also brilliantly portrays how lobbying and the middle-men business are often run by exacted greed and violent urges. There’s a great subtext somewhere there about having to pay taxes for earning an amount of money that is exploitative of your hard work and intelligence. Not getting enough payback from those who run things is a recurring theme here too.
Lapsis is a film that works wonders as an unprecedented metaphor and a great satire on capitalistic slavery. The human urge to break-off from these shackles is often rendered by having to set traps for other human beings. Sans a few characteristic developments that could have used more depth and a somewhat shaky ending, the film is as engaging and entertaining as you can imagine.