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Morgan (2016)

We Have To Talk About Morgan

Morgan has the lofty ambition to mix the Frankenstein myth, corporate evil and love against all odds and therefore fails at all three. It takes some specific talent, one guesses, to fail at the third, but to be fair, the context of genetically engineered pedo-lesbian maternity contest has its hurdles. Poor Morgan (Anna Taylor-Jones, from The Witch, here given nothing much to do but looking hostile) looks like 15 but is a 5 year old artificial creation referred as “IT” by souless government drones, and everything goes wrong from there. Nothing like a bad use or pronouns to trigger disaster, see.

A compendium of annoying actors (Rose Leslie, anyone?) bickering on elegiac music, Morgan doesn’t bring anything to the experiment-going-haywire subgenre, even though it ticks most available boxes, from car chase to communion with nature, from return to the womb to a Terminator on hot pursuit (here played with rigid inflexibility by the unsufferable Kate Mara). Absurd editing pays its dues to absurd screenwriting, except in the Paul Giamatti death scene, but Mr Giamatti is better off dead in any role anyway.

“Just be yourself”, he tells IT at some point. As a psychiatrist, he might want to sort out his grammar first, but in a dialogue itself checking all possible boxes (“Open the door!”, what else?), it’s hardly salient. Also, it was one’s shock to realise that Michelle Yeoh had a hard time affecting a Mandarin accent, but it’s Michelle Yeoh so all is forgiven.

No, the only good thing about Morgan is IT feeling sad about Dr Kathy Grieff (sigh…). Not because she enucleated said doctor in the opening scene, mind you, but because she’s played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who’s a fearless actor. She was the only American actress to accept the titular role in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle when production was due in the United States and in a sense, she’s the American Huppert, only her career has been constricted by the puritanism and cowardice of the Hollywood system instead or blooming at the international level.

She’s by far the best element of the movie and she’s missing an eye, a trait shared with the director, the editor, the set designer and everyone else involved in that production, especially the one who came up with the idea of a finale mixing Ophelia and Friday the 13th. Long lives Jennifer Jason Leigh!

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