The Tesseract Review

"The tesseract is a hypercube unravelled. When a square unravels to a line, two dimensions become one. When a cube unravels to a cross, three dimensions become two. When a hypercube unravels to the tesseract, four dimensions become three."


Twentysomething Brit Sean (Rhys-Meyers) is in Bangkok to sell a massive chunk of unprocessed narcotics and get extremely rich. He reckons without the attentions of cocky young rascal Wit (Rendell), the bellboy at the hotel where he's staying, who has a habit of rifling through the guests' belongings. Psychologist Rosa (Reeves), mourning her dead son, comes to the same hotel and gets involved with Wit when she asks him to be part of a documentary she’s making. Gangster Roy (Nanni), meanwhile, has ambitions of his own. As these disparate characters meet and part, interact and react, the angles and tensions of the Tesseract plane towards a deadly conclusion…

…and a fairly unimpressive one at that. With a disjointed, unsatisfactory storyline, a lamentable script and variable acting, 'The Tesseract' is something of an oddity to say the least. I can't claim to have read Alex Garland's book, but I understand it’s rather more introspective than the film, which really ends up as a coldly intellectual exercise in which characters and storyline have been shoehorned into a high-falutin' but ultimately pretentious conceit that is then exercised for the most action possible. There’s many a FX-assisted melee, some ‘bullet-time’ ballet and casual sex, but at no point does any character become more than a walking cipher, a wafer thin construction too slight for the film’s nebulous concerns to settle upon.

Things hit rock bottom when Reeves' character attempts to convince Wit - through a passage of dialogue so mannered and arch it dehydrates the brain to recall it - that they're both "...the same." It's a piece of dialogue that adroitly, if unknowingly, sums up the pretensions of the work as a whole. The writer is trying to give voice to a vision of global unity, of the ultimate oneness of humanity, without the necessary emotional experience that needs to underlie such a vast undertaking. In the shallow manipulations of the film the speech lands with the subtlety of a meteorite, effectively sinking whatever hope it had of escaping my attention as being merely tedious, and instead alerting to all and sundry that it wished to be considered as 'art', a surefire path to damnation if ever there was one.

It’s handsomely photographed though, by Pang regular Decha Srimantra and there are sequences where one remembers that Oxide, along with brother Danny, was responsible for the superb ‘The Eye’. But an overwrought, thundering soundtrack, incessant and frankly unnecessary visual effects and an uncomfortably over-familiar portrait of Thailand (heroin! Gangsters! Street kids!) complete what is unfortunately an ultimately alienating experience, as well as a curiously prosaic one. It’s basically your average ‘guns ‘n girls ‘n drugs’ flick dressed up as something more mysterious and profound. Indeed, for all its lofty ambitions and attempted experimentalism, ‘The Tesseract’ is just plain square.

Very good. Pang and Srimantra employ a slightly bleached, washed out effect that makes it a bit hard to tell whether the picture is a bit soft at times, but generally this is a great-looking film given a good presentation.

Excellent. While I'm not actually a fan of James Iha's pounding soundtrack, I have to admit it sounds superb on this DVD, pulsating, ringing or thumping.

Special Features
None. Not a sausage.

An attractive glossy surface fails to hide the lack of depth in this particular offering. The DVD presents the film's impressive aural and visual qualities well, although the lack of any extras or non-English subtitles may persuade fans of Pang or Rhys-Meyers to wait for a later version.

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out of 10

Last updated: 18/04/2018 00:47:43

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