Featuring Alanis Morissette, this sci-fi film is centered on a good-natured young man in the ’80s who has a beautiful wife, a dedicated best friend, a job in the family record store and a seeming idyllic life. However, this is all disturbed one night when he wakes up to a vision of himself standing by the bed. His wife wakes, sees it too and is terrified. Their contrasting reactions set up a wider parallel. Some are curious and some are scared stiff. Some accept the call while others are too cowed to take a risk.
Writer/director/producer John Alan Simon consciously channeled the mind of prolific science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick to re-create this masterpiece novel as a suspenseful movie. The result is a film about what I’ll call the power or catalyst for inner drive, the essence of our inspiration and motivation. Dick called this source VALIS, an acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System.
Philip K. Dick’s VALIS trilogy (1981) technically didn’t include the posthumously published first novel called “Radio Free Albemuth.” This is sci-fi for the thinker and the autobiographical tome Simon decided to recreate with a faithful heart.
Like other Philip Dick spin-offs, “Minority Report” and “Blade Runner,” there is a foreboding conspiracy. But unlike its predecessors, “Radio Free Albemuth” focuses less on violence and negativity and more on the invincibility of the human struggle, the immortal, transcending power of art and the surviving message of good in a corrupt society.
While Alanis Morisette may draw the curious in, you will notice in the trailer that it is the transfixing work of the three leads and their relationship with each other that grip the audience. While it is known that Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) and his best friend Phil (Shea Whigham of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”) are manifestations of Philip Dick’s own personality, I believe it’s possible that Rachel (Katheryn Winnick), who is scared to death of her husband’s aberrance, represents his more self-critical side.
Intellectually exciting, John Alan Simon has created a fascinating film as true as possible to PKD’s novel. While it may be an autobiographical play on Dick’s life, it will resonate with a thoughtful audience about the essence of man and the purpose of the universe.
- Film Credits
Director/Writer/Producer: John Alan Simon
Based on the novel by: Philip K. Dick
Producers: Dale Rosenbloom, Stephen Nemeth, Elizabeth Karr and John Alan Simon
Cinematographers: Patrice Lucien Cochet and Jon Felix
Casting: Ferne Cassel (CSA)
Editor: Philip Norden
Production Design: Alan Muraoka
Composers: Robyn Hitchcock and Ralph Grierson
Cast: Jonathan Scarfe, Shea Whigham, Alanis Morissette, Katheryn Winnick, Scott Wilson and Hanna Hall
Release: June 27, 2014
Runtime: 111 minutes
Availability: iTunes, OnDemand, Yerka and Amazon
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