Womb was supposed to be my swansong. For seven weeks I’ve complained about wanting to watch Womb – or Clone Brackets Womb, as I insisted on calling it. I stomped, I sulked, I swore, I demanded to be allowed to review it. It was dangled before me, offered as a reward for finishing my work on time and then, when I consistently failed to do so, taken away as punishment. AND THEN, last night, the war of attrition finally came to its logical conclusion and I stole Clone Brackets Womb when no one was looking.
Sure, I’d built it up in my mind to a level no film could possibly achieve, but by golly a film about a Woman who Gives Birth to her Boyfriend turned out to be a piece of such skull-crushing boredom that at one point my heart rate slowed so much I thought I might have accidentally died.
Filmed on the coast of Northern Germany, but possibly set on another planet, the entire thing takes place on a beach with everyone wearing chunky knitwear and thinking about the sea. Rebecca and Tommy are two children who meet at the age of nine and ‘fall in love’. Except they didn’t did they? They poked a snail and rode bikes and got a bit curious about their bodies and thought about practicing kissing. I had a boyfriend when I was nine; his name was Christopher and our relationship lasted the duration of a bus journey home from the nature reserve. I kissed him on the cheek and was later absolutely convinced that I’d ‘stolen his sperm’, which meant he would never be able to get married. Maybe you were a better adjusted nine year old, but I imagine that, IN YEAR FOUR, you were not up to speed on the intangible concept of love. Then Rebecca has to go to Tokyo, and they don’t see each other for twelve years.
Back she comes, finds Tommy again and they pick up where they left off – poking snails, riding bikes, taking a bag of cockroaches to release at the local cloning centre, you know, classic relationship stuff. It’s on the way to this final activity that Tommy is run over by a passing van. Sad Rebecca. Lots of staring out to sea. The film plays fast and loose with the passage of time, but I’d estimate the two minutes of screen time they get as adults is equivalent to maybe two weeks of real life lovin’. Two weeks here, a month when you were nine, that’s certainly long enough knowing a person to make rational decisions about giving birth to their clone and raising them as your son and eventual lover.
Rebecca raises Tommy 2 as her son and is generally be a bit weird, but not so weird that it’s worth watching. All we want is to be grossed out by a mother snogging her son but what we get is lots of ‘thinking’. The thing about ‘thinking’ in film, is that no matter how awesome the thoughts, if you’re not actually saying them all we get is 17 seconds of a woman sitting in a chair.
This photo is on the back cover of the DVD; the thought of seeing Matt Smith’s naked bottom is, I imagine, a major draw for those perusing their local Blockbuster. ‘Oh look’, they’ll say, taking it off the shelf, ‘this one’s got Matt Smith’s naked bottom in it’. That’s not Matt Smith. THAT’S A CHILD.
There’s a wholly undeveloped side plot concerning the local community’s attitude to ‘copies’ (clones), which forces the pair to move away. Why would we waste valuable screen time exploring human nature’s response to a scientific possibility we will eventually have to deal with when we could have ‘thinking’ and ‘looking at the sea’? Womb is beautiful, no doubt about that, but it fails entirely to be anything else. It never even tries to address the endless ethical, moral and philosophical problems of cloning, debate the nature of love or gross us out. A glacial paced ‘sci-fi’ that promised so much and delivered so little. Don’t make womb on your shelf for this one.