Wednesday, February 18, 2015

3+1 Short Paragraphs: Predestination

2014, The Spierig Bros (Daybreakers) -- download

'—All You Zombies—'  is a short story by Robert Heinlein, considered one of the greatest mindfucks of all time travel stories. Like all time travel fiction, it deals with the concept of paradox, but this one embraces it, wholey. The Spierig Bros again team with Ethan Hawke to adapt this story, which has to play with a few more ideas to properly present the story. You'll get why in a minute. And in case you haven't guessed, yeah, any thought of a review of this movie is spoilerific. So, if you don't know anything about the story or the hints behind the movie, but would like to see it, skip reading.

Ethan Hawke is a timecop (but without Van Damme's great hair) investigating a bombing in NYC, and trying to prevent it before it happens. The Fizzle Bomber is his nemesis, someone he has been chasing through time his entire career, and I can guess at his final success as the bombing didn't happen in our timeline. He is injured in one encounter requiring reconstructive surgery, and after recovery, is sent to the 70s to continue the investigation. This is where he has a long discussion with The Unmarried Mother, a man who writes impressive confessional stories from a woman's point of view. This meeting and the story of his past is the crux of this entire movie. The discussion begins, "When I was a little girl."

Aargh, either I cloak the rest of it in vague references to the detective story and the time jumping and the gender swapping, or I come right out. To tell you what I loved so much about this, I just have to tell you. Ethan Hawke is talking to The Unmarried Mother, who was once a woman, given gender correction surgery after the traumatic birthing of her daughter. She was born intersex, so that was indeed possible. She was impregnated by an older stranger, who turns out to be the older male version of herself, and yes, the daughter is also her, delivered to an orphanage as an infant. And yep, Ethan Hawke is the final incarnation of this single person who is mother, father and child of herself. This is a convoluted and rather pervy story of a predestined life, one that cannot be avoided because it already happened. In this extreme case, how can it be denied or avoided. Hawke's character just wouldn't be unless he played a hand in creating him/herself. And the loop, forgive me Rian Johnson, is closed to end out the movie.

So, in two fell swoops, the story accepts the concept of transgenderism whole heartedly, which is commendable, while tossing some rather disturbing concepts at us. All jokes about masturbating aside, its kind of icky to consider seducing the younger, other-gender version of yourself. Icky? Kinky? Romantic? Attach your own. I guess that blows up one time travel trope of never interacting with your past self, for fear of the universe blowing up. By the time the story (his not ours) has reached Ethan Hawke, you can understand his acceptance. He knows where he comes from, perfectly and completely.  He accepts his predestined fate.