ResCinema: The Philosophers/After The Dark (2014)

 

After my partner saw the film The Philosophers (2014), I was asked to watch it as well as he wasn’t quite sure what to think of it. Having never heard of the movie and only finding out that it’s about an Indonesian philosophy class imagining the end of world –scenario, I imagined it might be a foreign indie flick that might be a bit heavier in its themes than I was in the mood for that evening. Boy, was I wrong.

Despite the film being set in Jakarta, Indonesia, we are introduced to our main characters (some bland faced chick and the spoiled rich kid villain from The Purge) having a cuddly scene in the most lavishly decorated room that has as much personality as a hotel room. But no, this is James’ room. And he’s a senior. But in all honesty, the white sheets of his bed suit perfectly with his bland personality.

We soon find our characters in a philosophy class of James D’Arcy, who proposes a thought experiment to end the course and thus their last session before college with. Like any real teacher, he basically blackmails his unwilling students to take part in it. And like any real students, there is not one person in the class who from then on isn’t completely committed to D’Arcy’s fantasies of a life in a bunker, where they all must shag one another in order to guarantee the future of the human race.

The premise of the scenario is simple: you are 21 people and there’s a bunker with room and supplies to provide for 10. You are under a time constraint, have limited information on your colleagues and you must decide who gets to be inside the cosy bunker instead of suffering a painful death.

Because D’Arcy is an asshole, he introduces himself as the “wild card”, whose skills and talents are unknown to the students and he repeatedly abuses this power by fucking things up in their made-up scenarios. The students, nevertheless, seem fine with it and never question whether this is just D’Arcy’s plan to make his female students imagine being impregnated by him. Due to unknown reasons, the students are unable to separate themselves from the characters they’ve been assigned in this experiment. Because of this cluster fuck of assigned roles and their real wants and wishes as human beings, we witness the drama of the film unfold, as the now-gay-Purge guy will just have to deal with D’Arcy fantasy-screwing his girlfriend in another room.

It isn’t until their third trial that the students start to play this game the way D’Arcy does and actually manage to live it out in a way in which they survive through the year in a bunker. This they do by ditching logic or “philosophy” as our clearly qualified D’Arcy might call it and by simply choosing the people that might be most entertaining to live with. D’Arcy is mad but defeated for his stupid attempt at game theory. Oh, sorry, I mean “philosophy”.

And it turns out that he was just mad at the Purge kid screwing his ex. Why does it seem like D’Arcy always plays a teacher who is romantically involved with a student? Yikes.

Visually, most of the film is kind of crappy CGI but these fantasy-bunkers and Armageddon-settings are creative. Therefore it is kind of a shame to see an original idea being screwed up so horribly. There seemed to be no other reason for the film to be based in Jakarta except for a couple of nice shots, especially when this “international school” seemed only to consist of students out of English speaking countries. But I guess I could be wrong since I only saw the German dub.

As for the acting, I guess it was ok. D’Arcy was delightfully maniacal but rest of the cast seemed to be written as nothing more than clever students with a handful of ideas. Each character could’ve been easily replaced by another, and by the end of the film, the only personality most of the students were given were the roles they were assigned with for this thought experiment. They even have no character in relationship to each other.

Final verdict: it’s dumb but it’s enjoyable. Nice visuals, bad CGI.

Random Facts:

  • Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) was in this film
  • Cinta Laura (Kiehl) actually went to an international school in Jakarta. And happened to be born close to where I now live. It’s a small world.
  • Rosie Larsen of the Killing was in this film
  • The boy actor from the original Spy Kids film is the only one to deserve an A for his use of game theory in this film
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