Jonathan (2018)

IMDB: [UR] This sci-fi-tinged drama follows two brothers living very separate lives – inside the same body. Content to live life in shifts with one another, their delicate balance is ruined when they become emotionally involved with the same woman.
The description above is one that actually tells the plot the way the trailer does. And while I’m all for avoiding spoilers, I don’t think I can talk about the concept of this film without at least getting this info.

Rating: [6] 💚💚💚💚💚💚🖤🖤🖤🖤

This is a pretty good, slow sci-fi drama with some great acting. However I somewhat struggled to rate it. I flip flopped between a 6 and a 7 for various reasons. If you’re into a slower drama with some sci-fi touches similar to Black Mirror then I think you’ll like this one. And I have to give it a kudos for some unique storytelling. However, I found myself almost re-editing or re-writing it as I watched it. Perhaps that’s because I watch… well… a lot of movies. I’m no expert but I know enough about stories to get a little bored when the endings are too obvious. Overall, I enjoyed it and there was some good emotion and character portrayal.

What I Loved:
Without giving away the whole plot, there are a lot of moments depicting inner struggle. The situational set up allows for a fight within one person. We feel what Jonathan is going through in a lot of ways. There were some soft moments in the acting that sold the emotions for me. I’m glad it was a story that took time to develop as opposed to rushing and throwing a bunch of science or extreme drama in our faces. It was enjoyable to see the way the sci-fi was worked into the world to make it feel much more believable and not other-worldly or too far into “multiple personality” tropes.

What I Didn’t Love:
The story, for me, was far too predictable and I felt did a disservice to the love interest’s character. I feel like the setup was good, and it COULD have gone somewhere less predictable. Again, I found myself rewriting it or editing it in my head. It’s not that I think the ending or story is bad. It’s just – the setup feels very similar to other stories but just in a different shell. The outcomes seemed like they’re supposed to be surprising, but I found myself almost saying the character’s lines before they did near the end. That really disappointed me because I enjoyed the acting and the minimalist nature of the sets, characters, and story.

Minor annoyance: Ringing tones. This is common in so many movies, but as someone prone to tinnitus (heh, like Baby (Ansel again) in Baby Driver) it can be irritating. While it develops some atmosphere, often it’s too high pitched and ringing for my ears. There are about 3 shorter moments in this movie.

“I woke up this morning at 7:03. The time is shifting again.”

Liar Liar – A story could be more easily resolved if people told the truth.

Spoilers: Click to Reveal

I think my full rewrites only work if you have a quick summary.

We see the story from Jonathan’s perspective. Through an implant, he gets 7am-7pm shifts while Jon, his more rebellious and sociable brother gets the night shift. They leave videos for each other after their shift and this is how we learn Jon’s story. Jonathan is very straight-laced and they have rules – such as no girlfriends – to follow.

Jon doesn’t follow those rules and falls for a girl, Elena, and keeps it from Jonathan. Drama ensues. Jon breaks up with Elena without telling her the truth of their condition. Jonathan does end up telling Elena and Jon stops speaking (leaving video messages) to Jonathan. During this time Jonathan (our “main” character) starts seeing Elana instead and doesn’t tell Jon. Elena at this point is aware of their condition and believes them – which is confirmed in medical journals as a legitimate, if rare, thing.

Later, Jonathan breaks up with Elena after Jon starts to develop depression, and requests to be “removed” from the body. (AKA: Death) It’s at this point where the story picks up as their time shifts start to … hm.. shift, I guess. They are switching outside of the schedule. And of course, as you may have guessed by now, it’s actually the depressed and suicidal Jon that is gaining more control. The character we’ve mostly met through video recordings and anecdotes of course gets the last line, but not in a malicious way. His personality is stronger.  Jonathan says goodbye and Jon takes over, driving off in the passenger’s seat of a cab with a packed suitcase.

Now, if you’re still with stories like this – or you watched the movie – you may see my issues. It’s just so, predictable that the brother we don’t see will be the one to take over. I think if they kept this ending (one brother takes over) then seeing more of each life with gaps in between where we are both left guessing about who is telling the truth and which brother is dominant, would work better. We could have also had a much different story had they not based it on the fact that Jon and Jonathan are lying to each other to drive the plot.

However my rewrite for this is that it could be an incredible love story. There’s a woman who loved Jon. Now she loves Jonathan. And she isn’t running away screaming about two brothers sharing a body. How interesting it could be to see them try to work out how to share love. Perhaps one of them could have a stronger love and we would still end with one alpha brother gaining control. It just seems like it was too quick for Elena to fall for each of them, become of a part of the story, then be cast off so quickly. Her character feels a little bit used by each of them as their brotherly love is stronger and another woman is sort of left in the dust as a “growing point” for these men to learn from.