Cypher

2002 was a good year for science fiction and fantasy, shortly after seeing Cube and Cube 2: Hypercube I was hungry for more, for something of similar ilk and strangeness, and so I turned to Cypher, also directed by Vincenzo Natali. However it was a good few years later that I actually managed to obtain a copy on DvD – again, like The Machine, this film simply vanished after being released.Cypher is an old friend to my movie collection, it has a wonderful abstract beauty and compliments my copy of Cold Souls to which it resides next to on my shelf. I won’t trouble to detail the exact plot synopsis suffice it to say that it revolves around a newly appointed spy (Morgan Sullivan) who, in order to conduct his duties, must change identities. He is required to attend conventions to collate and transmit intelligence back to the agency. These assignments are seemingly monotonous, mundane and extremely uneventful. Having established his new identity as Jack Thursb he begins to question his assignments and experiences painful headaches and disorientation. However identities become confused and he journeys down a trippy rabbit hole of secrecy and espionage to discover the truth about his ambiguous assignments, his true identity and his true purpose.

Cypher is certainly a thinkers-film, its plot is intricately woven and deserves your full attention, indeed it took me at least two viewings to fully unravel the many double-agent twists and turns. Many of the scenes feature strong edges and flat planes (particularly the travel scenes) giving it a mundane surrealism, this is complimented with an almost monotone pallet broken with grey hues. Set design and costume continue this theme with very sharp blacks, greys and light canvas creams with few colours between, achieving a very abstract suburban style. Colours become more vibrant as the many woven lies and secrets begin to fall away, concluding with a wonderfully scored scene by Inara George. Lead actor Jeremy Northam has done a superb job at portraying the many conflicting personalities and delivers quality conviction, beginning the movie as a lifeless introverted office nobody who then endlessly switches between personalities.


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