Film Review: HUMANE (2024) – An Original Take on a Tired Topic SuperNayr

Jay Baruchel Emily Hampshire Alanna Bale Sirena Gulamgaus Humane

Humane Review

Humane (2024) Film Review, a movie directed by Caitlin Cronenberg, written by Michael Sparaga, and starring Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Peter Gallagher, Enrico Colantoni, Sebastian Chacon, Alanna Bale, Sirena Gulamgaus, Uni Park, and Martin Roach. (from IMDb).

I think it’s fair to say that Caitlin Cronenberg comes from a filmmaking dynasty at this point. Certainly, in terms of Canadian cinema. It was exciting to hear she was throwing her hat in the ring for her directorial debut, Humane. The result was a story that had something different to say about a somewhat tiring subject.

It’s the end of the world (as we know it), and the population is dying, or the population needs to die. Due to our blatant disregard for climate science, humanity has ruined the Earth’s atmosphere, and now 20% of the global population must be dispatched in order for the rest of the world to survive. To achieve this goal of population depletion, the government creates a euthanasia program where people can “enlist” to die, and in return, their families will receive a large payout from the government. Unfortunately, not enough people have been enlisting, and now the government has begun drafting citizens to euthanize.

These programs are enforced by a new agency called D.O.C.S., short for the Department of Citizen Strategy. It’s an interesting twist on an end-of-world-type film, but some of the political punchiness comes across a little on the nose. For instance, it’s mentioned on television that the government refers to the global crisis as an offensive racial connotation. Which rings as a sick echo to the slogan derived for the COVID-19 outbreak by America’s former President. The highly offensive slop is defended in the film by the eldest brother of the York family, Jared, played by the always reliable Jay Baruchel, who is an anthropologist turned government lackey.

This brings us to the central plot of the film, because while the end of the world might be at our doors, there is something scarier happening inside: a family dinner. Four siblings are called upon by the patriarchal father, Charles York (Peter Gallagher), for a family dinner. This is truly where the crux of the story lies and may be cause for more fear than the looming specter of the global apocalypse.

The ingredients are all here. You have the sensitive, adopted brother in recovery, Sebastian (Noah York), the younger sister who’s an aspiring actress, Ashely (Alanna Bale), a corporate monster-type older sister in Rachel (Emily Hampshire), and the aforementioned Jared, who looks and acts every bit like the young Fox News correspondent or Jordan Peterson podcast producer that you’d expect.

It’s difficult because what this film gets right and wrong are these relationships that Cronenberg weaves inside a gorgeous old home that is giving Knives Out. While we as the viewer can’t relate to a world where our friends or loved ones are enlisting for imminent death to save the population, we can all relate to the uncomfortable fumblings of a family dinner. But in the end, things began to feel too messy. Perhaps there were too many ingredients added to the stew.

The performances are strong all around, especially from the D.O.C.S. commander, Bob (Enrico Colantoni), who delivers lines with a wonderfully twisted cadence, and Cronenberg’s eye felt objective and at ease, but there always seemed to be something missing from this film. Something that I couldn’t slot together to bring everything home.

While the direction felt solid, the lighting felt drab. There wasn’t a lot of life in the frame, even when scenes were supposed to be ratcheted up to 11. At times, it was sterile and almost clinical, juxtaposed against the rich, dark wood of the old York family home.

It felt interesting and fresh at times and bland and wishy-washy at others. I respect Cronenberg for branching out into different films than her father and now brother are keen on making (don’t get me wrong, there’s some gore in this), but at the end of the day, it left me wanting more.

Rating: 6/10

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