Eva Green, Matt Smith
Oddly mesmerizing, Womb is a dark love story which bring to mind terms that make us uncomfortable – possession, obsession, incest, taboo, oedipal – yet manages to fascinate us. Womb tells the disturbing tale of the lifelong obsessive love of a woman Rebecca (Eva Green) who give birth to the clone of her dead lover Tommy (Matt Smith) and raises his clone as her child.
The story is not sensationalized but told in a quiet, minimalist manner with little dialogue and sparse soundtrack. The cinematography is stark and beautiful while being shot almost entirely from a single location.
The love story of Rebecca and Tommy begins when the two meet as children. The connection between them is instant, yet they soon become separated for twelve years. Later when Rebecca returns to the town Tommy lives in a full fledged romance begins. This budding relationship is cut short suddenly when Tommy dies in an accident. In her grief, Rebecca decides to bear a child cloned from Tommy’s DNA. From the start we question what motivates Rebecca – is it the desire to bear the child of her lost love or to have her love returned to her and continue where the relationship left off?
Their narrative progresses as Rebecca raises the clone, Tommy 2, from child to young man. As Tommy 2 ages, an awareness of the feelings between the two grows. We can see Rebecca is torn between her material instincts and her attraction to her lover’s clone. Throughout Tommy 2′s life Rebecca takes the role of mother, yet there are disturbing moments as well as a growing tension and attraction between them. The film raises interesting questions regarding attraction being of a chemical nature, and nature vs nurture. How much of Rebecca and Tommy’s gravitation towards each other was invertible and could not be controlled and how much was a matter of environmental influences?
Rebecca is a truly captivating character as the viewer is taken from sympathy for her grief to feeling she is a completely dark and obsessed woman, back to sympathy again. Our views of Rebecca shift throughout the movie. At some points we feel she is displaying maternal instincts and protecting her child, yet at other times think that she is jealously isolating him for herself. She confuses us as we see her struggle with the morality of the situation, yet there is the nagging wonder if her every move is with the intent of having her lover returned. Later we observe her attempts to handle her jealousy as Tommy 2 finds a girlfriend (Hannah Murray) in his teenage years. We do not know what transpires in Rebecca’s heart and never know if she views the clone as her child or her lover. All the while we understand that she has given her entire life to her dead lover’s clone.
While the cinematography is masterful, the film’s fatal flaw is the fact that Rebecca never seems to age. More attention should have been given to Eva Green’s makeup as Tommy 2 grew into his teenage years. It renders Tommy 2′s evolution from child to potential lover less believable, therefore Rebecca’s role as mother or lover at any given point in his life has less impact.
Eva Green gives a wonderful performance as Rebecca, with Hungarian writer-director Benedek Fliegauf creating some memorable moments. In the scene where Tommy is killed, Green’s reaction is nothing short of brilliant.
Matt Smith is a difficult cast as he took the role of Tommy at the start of his role in Doctor Who. Many of his gestures are similar to his Doctor Who character, which can be awkward at times. However he had some outstanding moments where his delivery of Tommy was perfect. Tommy is an immature and emotionally indulged character who has no concept of controlling what he feels. Smith portrays Tommy’s outbursts to perfection, particularly in the salt scene.
Womb is not an action packed film but a slow, haunting tale of modern love and isolation. It is not a story of lust but the complexities of obsession and how far we would go to have our loved ones returned to us. It is not for everyone, but succeeds in the respect that few would be able to walk away without an opinion.
Trailers for Womb