Greatland is Dystopian fantasia building a world as strange as your imagination can provide despite budget obstacles that get in the way.
Guest Post: Review by Paul Grammatico
There are many films that deal with dystopian worlds. Some of these have the vibe that drugs would enhance these brightly colored wild excursions. Films as Nicholas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, Michael Anderson’s Logan’s Run, and Slava Tsukerman’s Liquid Sky. Many of these films have many elements of the surreal and a brainwashed community where all is well when this never the case.
Indie Rights latest contribution Greatland, touches on all of these dystopian tropes but in a low budget creative way. Ulysses (Armand Darbo), described as a non-binary human “great” who sleeps in a crib-like bed and has a “mother” that is a voice from an Apple Watch (voiced by Jackie Loeb), resides in a colorful community called Greatland which takes place in a storage facility and where marrying a tree is legal. Flatscreens deck the community and streams propaganda reality television that looks like a black light rave as they vote for either a dog or a cat to rule Greatland in the midst of a deadly virus. The altruists (scientists) will save them from the virus by giving them tokens of love (money).
Ulysses and his best friend Ugly Duck (Chloe Ray Warmoth) a product of the crime of reproduction via Mr. Lee who is punished by the Optimists by becoming invisible and mute. However, masturbating to gay porn is permissible for a 15-year-old child as a “rite of passage” deemed the Dark Temple Ceremony and that their “life force” is rewarded with a rabbit for an offspring. Illiteracy is encouraged and books are banned punishable by exile to Repentance Island.
When Mr. Lee is killed by the Optimists, Ugly Duck becomes “liberated” and is shipped off to Repentance Island. When Ulysses tracks down Ugly Duck to the island, Ulysses finds his real Dad (Nick Moran), meets the Alpha Altruist (Eric Roberts), and realizes that Greatland is simply a facade for the real world that the Altruists reside in.
Written and directed by Dana Ziyasheva (Defenders of Life), she scribes and helms a bizarre but unique world-building arena that sports the duality of a cartoonish, glam-soaked dystopia versus the harsh desolate world of the controlling elites. This film smacks of either John Waters or Kenneth Anger came up with the idea to make a futuristic film. Ms. Ziyasheva utilizes her wonderful creativity to display found objects to show the poverty of Greatland and the grand but craggy landscape that is Repentance Island where the altruistic elites reside.
The performances in this film are perfectly grounded in this eerie environment. Armand Darbo’s performance is terrific as Ulysses as his innocent naiveté is on point as he navigates between the two worlds. Chloe Ray Warmoth gives a scrappy performance as Ulysses’ love interest. Nick Moran is fantastic as the clerk as he becomes the Ulysses’ guide through Repentance Island. Eric Roberts is an unexpected but special treat as the wonderfully unpredictable Alpha Altruist. Jackie Loeb is also delightful with her dual role as “Mother” and Lady Omega.
This sci-fi/fantasy film shows how you can build a world as strange as your imagination can provide despite budget obstacles that get in the way. If you enjoy a coming of age dystopia filled with the fantastic, the lurid, and the unusual, then stream this movie and enjoy.