Sunday Matinee: William [Film]


“Star academics, Doctors Julian Reed and Barbara Sullivan, fall in love with each other and with the idea of cloning a Neanderthal from ancient DNA. Against the express directive of University administrators they follow through on this audacious idea. The result is William: the first Neanderthal to walk the earth for some 35,000 years. William tries his best to fit into the world around him. But his distinctive physical features and his unique way of thinking–his “otherness”–set him apart and provoke fear. William’s story is powerful and unique, but his struggle to find love and assert his own identity in a hostile world is universal–and timeless.” – Big Time PR



William is a tale that is old as time, no pun intended. Or is it? It doesn’t really matter, I suppose. The fact is, that this is a film that expresses the turmoil of the human condition that we all know and face within our lives. It just takes a very literal idea, and puts a brilliant metaphorical twist on the subject of what it means to be human. Which, in fact, becomes symbolic in a way as we are dealing with a character who does not believe in anything that can be perceived as metaphorical or a simile in any way. This is the paradox of the entire predicament that is concurrent throughout the film. William is a very well done examination into not only what it means to be human, but the struggle within ourselves to truly understand who we are. The idea that said struggle can occur because you derive from a species of human that has been extinct for a 35,000 years is obviously a very specific form of tragedy, but it is similar to a plethora of other bits of confusion that exist within the human mind. Overall, this is a film that will eventually leave you with more questions than answers, which I personally never see as a bad thing in this type of context.

The film’s writer and director, Tim Disney, has been quoted saying, “We Sapiens are not as special as we like to think.” Which I truly believe is absolutely spot on, and his work in bringing the character of William (brilliantly portrayed by Will Brittain) to a modern setting proves it beyond a reasonable doubt. William is a Neanderthal. But, he is also human. He carries the same sort of emotional baggage that even us Sapiens most likely consider to be our own invention. Again, I truly believe that in speaking metaphorically about the differences and similarities of Neanderthals and Sapiens is a very enlightening way to begin to realize that none of it really matters. Whether it was 35 minutes ago, or 35,000 years ago…none of us truly know WHY we are here. There are plenty of well thought out scientific studies, as well as less thought zealot like beliefs, that attempt to tell us HOW we arrived here. But, there isn’t a soul existing on this planet, and most likely any other, that can tell us why the human condition exists. The brain is an organ that named itself. Think about that for a moment.



Now, this isn’t a sociological blog, so I don’t plan to dive too deep into the previously mentioned subject matters. It is suffice to say, I truly loved this film. I loved the imagery of my beloved Pacific Northwest, I loved everything that it stands for from a societal stand point, and I truly felt that everything from the cinematography to the brilliant wordplay and performances of everyone involved was handled quite perfectly, even down to an ending that, at first, felt a bit rushed and clunky, but after giving it some real thought, turns out to be the exact way it all needed to go.

William Brittain is absolutely stunning as the titular character. His matter of fact speak does not come off in a manner that we are accustomed to knowing of when it comes to Neanderthals. Brittain gives an emotional depth to a stereotype in a way that I have never seen before. And Susan Park was an absolutely delightful surprise. I truly wasn’t expecting her character to be much more than an object in which the film was using to pull more emotional depth out of the character of William. While this does turn out to be true, it was a mistake to disregard the brilliant writing of Tim Disney, and the incredible acting chops of Susan Park. Legends like Maria Dizza & Waleed Zuatier churn out some amazing performances that should not surprise any one in the least, as well.

I truly believe that William is a must see film. And I also believe that this is exactly the type of film that should be viewed with an complete open mind, and plenty of follow up conversation amongst those close to you. Ask the real questions: What does it mean to be human, really? How far removed are we actually from such a species as Neanderthals? Should Encino Man be remade into a high school drama ala Riverdale? All jokes aside, I truly cannot recommend this brilliant film enough. See it as soon as you can!


William is in theaters now at the Village East Cinema in New York City and Laemmle Monica Film Center in Los Angeles. 


Check out the trailer for William via YouTube on the FilmStop Trailers page:


About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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