Get Your Reps: The Clone Returns Home

06/30/2009 4:33 PM |

7bdd/1246393526-clone01.jpgPlanting a flag in the crack between the opposing cheeks of pulp and poetry, Kanji Nakajima’s The Clone Returns Home, screening tomorrow at the New York Asian Film Festival, engages Tarkovsky but considers and reconsiders the longing and perils of twinship as no film has done since Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers. The hero in this semi-somnambulistic dream-film is an astronaut who agrees to be cloned in case of a deep-space accident, and who, we slowly learn via a large and languid flashback, tragically lost a twin brother when he was young. When the astronaut is in fact killed on a mission, the identical clone/new twin is awoken, into a state of loss, and escapes, searching for his/their childhood home, and the other self/twin he remembers but in fact never had. Then a second clone is generated, and sent searching for the first. In his third mysterioso film, Nakajima makes the most of impossibly lyrical images: the spaceman floating through a blue afternoon sky, the astronaut’s widow sobbing in confusion about how to accept the new edition of her husband, the clone lugging the spacesuited corpse (which is, at times, only an empty spacesuit) across the countryside and collapsing in exhaustion, only to have the suit sluggishly sit up, pick up his “brother” and resume the march. Everything is allegorical, twinness is as much a dilemma of love as it is of identity, and grief seeps in like floodwater.