WILLIAM Review — Sure, It’s About a Cloned Neanderthal, But It’s Not What You’d Expect

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 William review — A surprisingly gentle yet provocative sci-fi drama about the evolution of a fish out of water.

William review“Sweet” and “subtle” are not the first words you’d expect to read in a description of a sci-fi film about cloning a Neanderthal. But those are exactly the first two words that came to mind after seeing indie director Tim Disney’s latest film, William. And they are the two characteristics I like most.

There’s really no need for flashy visual effects or imposing music in this very original film about a pair of academics who decide to invest their all into cloning a Neanderthal from ancient DNA. The two fall in love and get married, and one of them, Dr. Barbara Sullivan (Maria Dizzia), actually opts to carry the embryo they create and give birth.

The result is William (Will Brittain, with realistic prosthetics that are subtle rather than over the top) the first Neanderthal to walk the earth in some 35,000 years. To raise him in a lab or in a normal (as possible) family environment is but one of the ethical conflicts that arise. This is the story of William attempting to grow and adapt to a world genetics did not prepare him for.

One of the film’s strengths is an artfully shaded script, written by Disney and J.T. Allen. There is no black and white here—good characters make bad choices, bad characters make good choices, and just because some are experts doesn’t mean they’re right. The extremely talented Beth Grant’s performance as Dr. Godwin Thomas exemplifies this—was it really helpful for her to reveal all she did?

Questions like this and more abound throughout the film, with no answers thrown in your face. I’m still thinking about it long after I’ve seen it. And with all the films I watch, that speaks volumes.

Rated: NR

1 Hour 42 Minutes

Liked this William review? Find out more about the movie at WilliamTheFilm.

William review — A surprisingly gentle yet provocative sci-fi drama about the evolution of a fish out of water.

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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