Jennifer Phang helmed a beautiful film. According to Wired.com, when referring to another film she was working on (The Canopy, The Stream, The Sea), Phang said, “It’s an attempt to re-engage moviegoers who’ve lost hope.” In a way, she also does that with Advantageous—though, there seems to be more of a balance between cynicism and hope. This concept would actually make a fantastic episode of Black Mirror, although the ending seems a little more uplifting than most Black Mirror episodes. This film does a wonderful balancing act—between cynicism and hope, between two major American (or universal, really) dreams: eternal youth and support for your children. This film is so incredibly relevant to today, and it proves just how far people might go when they are desperate.
I love that this film teaches a moral without becoming preachy. How often do we immediately judge someone based on their looks? As I was watching this film, I recall an audition I attended a few years ago, where an older women walked in to read for the lead role. I scoffed immediately, thinking to myself, “She can’t be the lead role. She’s too old. She’s not pretty enough.” Mind you, this woman hadn’t even opened her mouth; when she did, my mouth dropped, and I had been schooled in the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Is this what we do to other human beings? Do we immediately judge, causing self-doubt to these beautiful people who just want to support their families and do what we love?
As a society, we are so obsessed with growing older that we will practically duo anything to keep ourselves young. During an interview at the Sundance festival, for which Phang and Advantageous won the US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision, “What are our standards for survival? People feel like it has to be a ‘me or them’ kind of world, because it’s their upbringing. That’s the actually the world we were trying to explore, a very self-aware society where everyone is playing the same game. But everyone really just wants to have love and protect the things and the people they love.” This film ultimately ends with a sign of hope: we do begin to support each other, as Lily and Han eventually do for Gwen and Jules. Hopefully it will never come to this.