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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice’ on Netflix, a Strange and Beautiful Documentary About Grief, Loss and Love

Where to stream:.

  • Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice
  • Stream It Or Skip It

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Sweet East’ on Hulu, a Goofy Poli-sci Satire Anchored by a Bemused Talia Ryder

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Netflix documentary Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice chronicles how a Thai family had their two-year-old daughter cryogenically frozen after she passed away due to brain cancer. The story made international headlines, but director Pailin Wedel goes deeper, spending significant time with the girl’s scientist parents and budding-scientist teenage brother, broaching wide-ranging topics from pragmatism to spirituality.

HOPE FROZEN: A QUEST TO LIVE TWICE : STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The Gist: When he was a kid, the aerator on Sahatorn Naovaratpong’s goldfish tank stopped working overnight. The fish were floating. His mother had him put the fish on ice, allowing them to revive half of them later. In 2012, Sahatorn, who owns and operates a “laser factory” in Thailand, and his wife Nareerat became parents for the second time. Their son Matrix always wanted a sibling, and is overjoyed upon meeting his baby sister, who they called Einz — Japanese and Chinese for “love.”

Einz was two when she unexpectedly fell into a coma. She had a form of brain cancer that’s essentially a death sentence. Multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy followed. About a month shy of her third birthday, Einz died. But prior to that, the family contacted a company in Arizona called Alticor, who agreed to cryogenically preserve her remains. Sahatorn believes that science will be able to reanimate her someday, and in that idea he invests all his hope. He’s interviewed on many TV news programs about the technology and why the family chose this path for Einz.

We see the family visit Alcor; they grieve and pray at the chrome canister in a laboratory — where Einz’s brain is preserved — like one might do at a loved one’s gravesite. This family is wholly devoted to science, but also devout practicers of buddhism. Sahatorn and Matrix discuss how specific dreams affect their lives. Matrix, 15 years old when the film was made, is passionate and dedicated to scientific practices, but in honor of his sister, he has his head shaved and becomes ordained as a novice Buddhist monk. Matrix then travels to the U.S. to meet a scientist who won awards for freezing and reviving a rabbit’s brain, and faces a series of revelations about the technology his family used to keep Einz’s brain viable on a cellular level.

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: The philosophical and ethical questions are indelibly burned into the subject matter, but as soon as Matrix and Sahatorn begin talking about dreams, you’ll feel the specter of Werner Herzog’s big-question documentaries in the room — Wedel’s tone and innate curiosity brings to mind Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World and Encounters at the End of the World .

Performance Worth Watching: Matrix is the heart of the movie — his scientific and spiritual journeys illustrate how he’s committed to understanding the nature of the human soul from both philosophical and rational perspectives.

Memorable Dialogue: “One day, if you wake up and watch this video, maybe hundreds of years from now, we want you to know we love you.” — Sahatorn records a video for Einz

Sex and Skin: None.

Our Take: Hope Frozen shows us where grief, science, religion, hope and despair meet — and it’s a cloudy place where the seed of absolutism can find no purchase. Except maybe the assertion that science will find a way, as Sahatorn at one point extrapolates, “We may have time travel by then,” showing unerring devotion to mankind’s ability to someday achieve what we now deem almost impossible. Most compelling is the Naovaratpong family’s holistic understanding of life; Western sensibilities posit science and religion as binary opposites, but for these Thai people, it seems as if the human soul is merely waiting to be discovered and explained by the rigors of science, in a day, a week or millennia from now.

Such is the film’s ecstatic truth. Ultimately, though, it’s more intuitive than informational. Wedel all but acts on the assumption that we’ve read some of the many news stories about Einz and pondered the ethical concerns, and therefore takes the story further; it took an internet search to find the family’s surname and clarify that Einz’s body wasn’t preserved, but rather, what remained of her cancer-ravaged brain. More on Alticor would be beneficial for context, too (it’s the same company that famously cryogenically froze baseball star Ted Williams). Such details don’t seem as crucial as Wedel’s exploration of the incalculable desperation incurred by devastating loss, or the subtle rumination on the nature of what makes us human: Suffering perhaps, memory certainly, a mind and soul and intellect indelibly.

Like his parents, Matrix doesn’t exhibit signs of extreme grief — possibly due to cultural differences — but instead, an ability to look progressively forward, with hope and inquisitiveness. In the film’s most subtly powerful moment, Matrix places a greeting card on the chamber containing his sister and it reads, “You are your own unique story.” What an odd sentiment that is, until you fully consider the goal of his quest.

Our Call: STREAM IT. Wisely, Hope Frozen sidesteps every opportunity to sensationalize this strange story. You’ll wish it was more factually thorough, but its willingness to tackle big questions is its strength.

Should you stream or skip #HopeFrozen : A Quest To Live Twice on @netflix ? #SIOSI — Decider (@decider) September 16, 2020

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba .

Stream  Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice on Netflix

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Hope frozen: a quest to live twice, common sense media reviewers.

hope frozen movie review

Scientist dad makes unorthodox decision; mature themes.

Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Sometimes, when we become desperate to save a sick

A girl's parents work day and night to save their

A young child suffers from aggressive brain cancer

Parents need to know Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice is a 2018 Thai documentary (in Thai and English) that follows a family coping with their baby girl's incurable brain cancer. Her father ceaselessly searches for a cure, but when he realizes she'll die before she's 3, he persuades the family to have her…

Positive Messages

Sometimes, when we become desperate to save a sick loved one, we turn to unlikely measures. "We are heading toward deathlessness."

Positive Role Models

A girl's parents work day and night to save their 2-year-old daughter who is dying of brain cancer. Her older brother becomes a researcher and devotes himself to the science of reviving her.

Violence & Scariness

A young child suffers from aggressive brain cancer and dies. To preserve her until a cure is found, her family turns to cryogenics. After her death, her brain is detached from her body, frozen, and maintained in a tank in Arizona. A young man watches his sister's brain being dehydrated and he describes that her face and eyeballs got sucked in. This procedure changes the structure of her brain, making it less likely that her brain can be brought back to its original form.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice is a 2018 Thai documentary (in Thai and English) that follows a family coping with their baby girl's incurable brain cancer. Her father ceaselessly searches for a cure, but when he realizes she'll die before she's 3, he persuades the family to have her brain cryogenically preserved in a tank in Arizona. A young man watches his sister's brain being dehydrated and he describes that her face and eyeballs got sucked in. After her death, the girl becomes the youngest ever preserved that way, making her an international news story. Later, an expert in the field tells the family that the chance of ever reviving her safely is less than .1%. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice Movie: The tank holding the frozen brain of a two-year-cancer victim

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What's the Story?

HOPE FROZEN: A QUEST TO LIVE TWICE is the story of a Thai family struggling to cope with their baby's diagnosis of brain cancer and the realization that she won't make it to her third birthday. Her scientist father becomes obsessed with finding treatments, but as the prognosis becomes dire, he switches his research to learning about cryogenic preservation. He works to persuade his wife to freeze their baby's brain so that what's left of their daughter can be thawed one day, perhaps hundreds of years later, when technology can bring her back safely and cure her cancer. The cryogenics team flies her to Arizona, where her head is surgically removed from her body and her brain is dehydrated and filled with a kind of anti-freeze for storage at a low temperature. Her older brother Matrix, a precocious, science-oriented teen, is devoted to helping bring her back. At age 16 he travels alone to the U.S. to learn more about cryogenics, and returns with the discouraging news that at least one expert believes there's only a .1% chance of bringing his sister back from her frozen state.

Is It Any Good?

This is an odd documentary, primarily about mourning and grief, and not so much about the cryogenics. Hope Frozen doesn't dwell on many details that would explain the cryogenics process, and much of the visual experience is devoted to nameless filler --unidentified machines whirring in science labs, performing vague functions. Since the hope is that technology that doesn't exist yet will one day permit the safe revival of her brain, and will one day cure her disease, more science details would help us understand how the parents made this decision. The Buddhist culture of Thailand prompts many media outlets there to question the parents' judgment, and numerous television anchors ask if the father isn't worried that freezing the dead child's brain is keeping her soul from "resting in peace," by trapping her soul and preventing reincarnation

The movie includes seemingly tangential vignettes; in one instance, young Matrix is shaved for a two-week Buddhist retreat to help him heal. A message at the end notes that the family is burying a copy of the documentary in an underground vault with the hope that when their daughter is revived, one day long after they're all gone, she'll understand how deeply she was loved. This lovely intention makes it clear that the movie is a letter to a dead child, and it explains why the film doesn't really address the needs of an audience.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the grief a family experiences at the loss of a child. What do you think of the decision in Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice to preserve the dead little girl cryogenically? Would you make the same decision for a loved one? Why or why not?

When the father is told that there is a .1% chance his daughter will ever successfully be thawed, why do you think he doesn't seem discouraged? Do you think his belief in future technology seems reasonable? Why or why not?

The family seems to be devoted to Buddhism. Do you think technology and religion can sometimes be at odds? Do you have any beliefs that are based more on religious thinking than on scientific thinking, or vice versa? Do you think it's okay to have faith in both religion and in science? Why or why not?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : September 23, 2018
  • On DVD or streaming : September 15, 2020
  • Director : Pailin Wedel
  • Inclusion Information : Female directors
  • Studio : Netflix
  • Genre : Documentary
  • Run time : 75 minutes
  • MPAA rating : NR
  • Last updated : February 18, 2023

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  • Sep 16, 2020

Hope Frozen: A Quest To Live Twice documentary film review

the film poster shows a cot next to medical equipment with a small thai girl in a white dress in a picture behind

Directed by #PailinWedel

Film review by Nathanial Eker

Netflix's new documentary film Hope Frozen is truly amazing. It somehow manages to take some of the most compelling and emotive topics (religion vs science, the sanctity of life debate, and the death of a toddler) and drain any and all captivation. This is a story that should grip us and leave us breathless. Yet after a promising start it devolves into a drab mess, defined by poor pacing and staggeringly inadequate storytelling.

It's difficult to imagine a premise more enticing than that of Hope Frozen . Einz, a two-year-old child from Bangkok is diagnosed with a fatal and incurable cancer. Her scientist father dreams of reviving her through the practice of cryonics, making Einz the youngest person ever to be cryogenically frozen. What follows is a discussion of whether preservation of the body is enough to bring someone back from death and how conservative Buddhist ideals of the soul and tabloid media attention can complicate things.

Writer-director Pailin Wedel poses a number of intriguing questions through the development of this seventy-five minute long documentary. Regrettably, they fail to address almost every one and simultaneously neglect to provide relevant information and context to allow the audience to draw their own conclusions. Bafflingly, the film begins with only the most rudimentary ex ploration of who Einz and her family are. They are reduced to mere players in a film that begs to pull on your heartstrings and inspire endless moral debate.

More infuriating is the lack of translation, not literally (the clunky and monotone voiceover work 'handles' that), but intellectually. Unfortunately for Wedel, most viewers will not be cryogenic experts and will thus require some level of explanation in lay-person terms.

And those voiceovers. Perhaps the single most effective way to destroy an emotive moment is to have a dry, uninspired western voice over the image of a distraught Thai mother attempting to verbalise her grief. Whoever decided that subtitles were 'too distracting' to include clearly didn't watch the first cut closely enough. This should be one of the most powerful documentaries put to film, but the voiceover trivialises the family's toil, reducing it to the level of a local news broadcast.

Hope Frozen owes almost nothing of its successes to its creators and most of it to the family themselves. Their struggle is real and their anguish obvious, even with the obstructive overlay of western monotony. The fascinating and controversial decisions by Sahatorn and his kin are clearly primed for a documentary that challenges cultural perceptions of death, science, and religion. Indeed, one of the most interesting discussions raised is that of futurism and whether anyone will care for Einz in the future should she ever be restored.

Other big questions like the realities of restoring memory and the existence of a soul are also raised but left mostly unquestioned. The film paradoxically crawls along with trivial scenes that add little, yet it also speeds through each new ethical dilemma like it's a race to the philosophical finish. A documentary of this ilk should be pretty simple in terms of structure, but Wedel makes bizarre editing decisions both temporal and physical at every turn that make for a whiplash-inducing tone.

At the very least, Hope Frozen undeniably encourages discussions around these issues and doesn't put forward a bias, which should be commended. From a technical point of view, the cinematography and music are passable though uninspiring, while the mise-en-scene is fairly well considered, characterised by a whiteness that simultaneously denotes both a suitably clinical aesthetic while also serving as a constant reminder of Einz' lost innocence.

Hope Frozen is not an ill-intended film. At its core it intends to be a time capsule that will even be given to Einz should she ever be revived. It is also admirably respectful of the family; even the voiceovers can be considered a way to broaden exposure of their plight. Sadly, sloppiness reigns supreme and the poor pacing and uninspiring clips chosen ultimately make Hope Frozen a chore to watch. It of course inspires a degree of empathy and debate, but I'd sooner recommend reading up on the topic yourself and watching unedited interviews with the family.

You're unlikely to get much of anything from this.

#NathanialEker

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'Hope Frozen': Grief, optimism and science intersect in documentary about youngest person cryogenically frozen

In 2015, Thailand's Matheryn Naovaratpong became the youngest person to be cryogenically frozen at just two years old. Matheryn aka Einz was the second child of Sahatorn and Nareerat Naovaratpong, whose first child, Matrix, had wanted a younger sibling. The baby brought joy to the family when she was born. However, she developed a rare form of brain cancer just after her second birthday -- a form of cancer for which the survival rate was minimal if not zero.

The decision to cryogenically freeze Einz came from Sahatorn, a doctor who had been looking at solutions through Einz's illness. His family supported him in spite of concerns from others. Sahatorn's family's decision to cryogenically freeze Einz and where they went from there is the subject of the latest documentary on Netflix, 'Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice'. For Sahatorn and Nareerat, only one thing was important -- to give their child a chance to live.

The Naovaratpong family made headlines around the world with their decision to freeze their child, for which they employed the services of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Since they had made the decision before Einz's death, Alcor's team was already present in Thailand to prepare Einz's body for the process of cryogenics. Her family chose to stay in the room to watch the surgical process.

Most of us might wonder whether we are advanced enough to have succeeded in cryogenics which has long been a part of science-fiction. However, it is faith and hope that drove the Naovaratpong family to make their decision -- not just in current scientific processes, but also in the belief that human society could be one day be advanced enough where there are no diseases or illnesses, and where there would be a cure for Einz's cancer.

'Hope Frozen' is a scientifically heavy documentary compared to others that we may have seen -- there is a lot of jargon thrown around but this does nothing to take away from the Naovaratpong family's story. If the first half of the documentary focused on Sahatorn, the second half focuses on Matrix, the boy who wanted a sibling. It does not take much to see that Matrix is a science genius thanks to Sahatorn's grooming, Matrix himself has developed a deep interest in scientific methods. It takes a lot of maturity for a boy of that age to willfully take on his father's dreams, one that may bear no fruition.

hope frozen movie review

So it is especially hard to watch when Matrix, at 16 years old, visits an American scientist who had successfully frozen and revived a rabbit brain. On speaking to the scientist, Matrix learns that current cryogenics techniques may not work when it comes to the revival process. Matrix speaks of seeing his sister's eyeballs sucked in during the post-death process and the scientist admits that there is only a 0.1% chance that Einz would be revived as the Einz he knows. For Matrix, who knows that personality and memories are what make a person, this is devastating news. When he conveys it to his parents, however, Sahatorn responds with optimism.

Of course, there are many ethical considerations when it comes to science that we don't understand. For instance, given that Einz did not consent herself to be cryogenically frozen, Sahatorn and his family were questioned by Thai media on whether she knew what they were doing or whether they were trapping her soul. 

'Hope Frozen' is a difficult documentary but the truth is that it is one that needs to be seen. Science is not as tangible as we would like to believe it is. Today, humans are able to do incredible things thanks to scientific discoveries, but if science-fiction is to be believed, we have a long way to go. How far are we willing to go, however? 'Hope Frozen' only briefly touches on the ethics of the situation, but when tied with the human story, it is enough to drive home the message.

It also makes us wonder about grief, which is again a subject of much scrutiny. The Naovaratpong family is willing to go to any length and themselves remain frozen in the grief in their efforts to keep Einz and her memory alive. While Matrix seems quite well-adjusted, we cannot help but wonder what toll the experience will have on him.

'Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice' is now streaming on Netflix.

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Hope Frozen review: The hard ethics of cryogenically freezing a child

Netflix’s Hope Frozen documentary follows a family in Thailand that cryogenically freezes their 2-year-old daughter’s brain after she dies, creating a controversy-fuelled media storm

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23 September 2020

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THE world – including this magazine – hasn’t shied away from expressing opinions about the Alcor Life Extension Foundation , the US non-profit founded by Fred and Linda Chamberlain in 1972 to freeze corpses and body parts in the hope of one day resurrecting the dead.

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hope frozen movie review

Review: ‘Hope Frozen’

  • Hot Docs 2019

hope frozen movie review

Hope Frozen (Thailand, 75 min.) Dir. Pailin Wedel Programme: International Spectrum (World Premiere)

The death of a child must be an incredibly difficult event for a parent. Letting go of a life one brought into the world seems incredibly cruel and unfair for a parent to have to do. For parents Sahatorn and Nareerat Naovaratpong, however, letting go of their daughter is something they refuse to do.

Hope Frozen  chronicles the controversial story of a Thai family that puts love on the line and faith in science. The doc recounts the Naovaratpongs’ story with remarkable access, intimacy, and objectivity as it lets the family tell of the death of their two-year-old daughter Matheryn, nicknamed Einz, their bundle of joy whose life was tragically short-lived due to an aggressive form of brain cancer. Sahatorn, a laser scientist, explains how he devoted himself to studying the cancer that was rapidly stealing Einz away from the family. He admits his nightmarish conclusion with touching frankness: there was simply no chance for his research to progress at the same rate as the cancer.

However, director Pailin Wedel chronicles the Naovaratpongs’ controversial decision to have Einz cryogenically preserved in hopes that science could one day bring her back to life. The parents, both Buddhists and devotees of science, explain frankly how the specialists in Arizona’s Alcor Lab preserved Einz’s brain. Each interview resonates with the hope they hold out that their family can once again be complete.

Hope Frozen  presents this difficult debate from objective viewpoints: the parents feel they’re helping families worldwide, knowing that the experiment can potentially save future parents from saying goodbye to their children. Wedel conveys the science in relatively accessible terms, thanks in large part to the participation of Einz’s older brother, a 15-year-old science whiz named Matrix, who devotes himself to the pursuit of science. Matrix is a great character, a devoted brother, who opens himself up to the camera expresses his sense of responsibility for the situation since his parents had Einz because he wanted a sibling. There’s an underlying cruelty to the situation, too, as one sees how the family’s inability to let go of Einz prevents him from growing up fully. Einz’s death permeates every frame of the film as the Naovaratpongs carry on in a state of suspended grief. The girl is clinically dead, but she’s not gone in their views, and they speak of Einz in a fascinating mix of past and present tenses.

Especially intriguing is the element of Thai Buddhist culture that sharpens the controversy. Once news of Einz’s freezing hits the Thai media, it proves immediately controversial because commentators worry that the experiment conflicts with Buddhist doctrine. One pundit aptly notes that the process defies notions of reincarnation if the parents hope to bring Einz back to life years—if not decades or centuries—from now, if at all. Many observers feel that Einz’s soul is trapped in limbo and unable to move on from one life to the next.

Hope Frozen  might be a scientifically fascinating study of familial devotion or a morbid portrait of selfishness depending on how one interprets Wedel’s objective film. It can be both, as the film approaches the debate from numerous angles of science, ethics, faith, and family. It’s hard to say how many people died when Einz passed away on January 8, 2015, and the final title cards of  Hope Frozen  afford no easy answer to the family’s future. It’s an awfully difficult film to watch—if an infinitely fascinating one.

Hope Frozen  screens: -Sat, Apr. 27 at 9:00 p.m. at  TIFF  Lightbox -Mon, Apr. 29 at 12:00 p.m. at Cineplex Scotiabank -Thurs, May 2 at 4:15 p.m. at  TIFF  Lightbox

Visit the  _POV _Hot Docs Hub  for more coverage from this year’s festival!

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Hope Frozen: A Quest To Live Twice

Where to watch

Hope frozen: a quest to live twice, ความหวังแช่แข็ง: ขอเกิดอีกครั้ง.

Directed by Pailin Wedel

How far would you go to give your child a second chance at life?

A Buddhist scientist from Bangkok decides to cryo-preserve his daughter's brain. As scandal swirls around the family, they struggle to grieve a child that, in their view, is suspended between death and a future reawakening.

Nareerat Naovaratpong Sahatorn Naovaratpong Matrix Naovaratpong Max More

Director Director

Pailin Wedel

Producers Producers

Pailin Wedel Patrick Winn

Writers Writers

Pailin Wedel Nina Ijäs

Editor Editor

Cinematography cinematography.

Mark Dobbin Mark Oltmanns

Executive Producer Exec. Producer

Amanda Feldon

Composer Composer

Chapavich Temnitikul

Sound Sound

Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr

2050 Productions

Thailand USA

Primary Language

Spoken languages.

English Thai

Alternative Titles

Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice, Contornando a Morte, Hope Frozen: si può vivere due volte?, En t'attendant : l'espoir figé, 희망을 얼리다: 환생을 향하여, Criogenización: Vivir dos veces, 冻结的希望, 希望永存:尋找二生二世

Documentary

Releases by Date

15 jun 2018, 27 apr 2019, 17 sep 2019, 06 oct 2019, 08 dec 2019, 15 sep 2020, releases by country.

  • Premiere Hot Docs
  • Premiere 16 Watch Docs Film Festival

Switzerland

  • Premiere 12 Zurich Film Festival
  • Digital Netflix
  • Premiere Sheffield Doc Fest
  • Premiere BFI London Film Festival

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Popular reviews

tahra dactyl

Review by tahra dactyl ★★½

sad or hopeful? i can’t decide.

Lisa

Review by Lisa ★★★½

When their three-year-old daughter Einz is diagnosed with one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer, the Naovaratpong family from Thailand look to doctors to save her. When they are unsuccessful, scientist and Einz father, Sahatorn, turns to Cryogenics to preserve their beloved daughter's brain. Wow, this was a tough watch!. The Naovaratpong families' buddhist beliefs contrast with their outright faith in science. Beautifully and respectfully filmed, Hope Frozen: A Quest To Live Twice is a fascinating look at a families longing to keep the memory of their loved one alive.

kimchideluxe

Review by kimchideluxe ★★★½ 2

Is this selfish? Or selfless? I honestly can't blame the parents for doing this. They believe that their daughter deserves a chance to have a life. Whether they are alive or not.

I am not sure if I would go this route but I don't have children so I am not sure what I would really do honestly.

Shows I'm watching this week: 90 Day Fiance True Detective Tokyo Vice The Elegant Empire On The Roam Masters Of The Air Expats Children Of The Cult

Ken Rudolph

Review by Ken Rudolph ★★★½

A Thai couple lost their adorable 2-year old daughter to a fatal brain cancer. This intriguing, humanistic documentary tells of the family's attempt to preserve their daughter's future by cryogenic freezing after her death, despite their Buddhist belief that her reincarnation might be interfered with. The film is also the family's testament of their love for Einz that is to be safely stored for their daughter's viewing when and if she is revived sometime in the future.

An intriguing detail is that this is a family of scientists: the girl's father is a laser scientist. The girl's older brother, Matrix, is a 16 year old science prodigy, who loved his little sister and is dedicated to be around and instrumental…

vela🕯

Review by vela🕯

fascinating to learn about cryogenics and how it might work in a future, heartbreaking to see a family lose their baby and desperately trying to hold on to hope... who knows if they can bring her back, if the process used now will really preserve her as she was

Cadhla McCarthy

Review by Cadhla McCarthy ★★★ 2

This was a very complex watch. Pretty difficult subject matter but I was trying not to have powerful opinions because grief and hope are very individual experiences. I really hope they’re all doing ok and this doesn’t affect them too much

willy vvvv

Review by willy vvvv

matrix described that day as being in slow motion

as serious as the subject matter is, the levels of meta this reaches for thailand is crazy. kids named matrix and einz, slow motion, cryonics freezing, clash of science and spirituality, the buddhist passage. its all so in the water its like a cross of arthouse and horror quietly playing out in documentary form. beautiful, peaceful, but godamn does it get cold when you're forced to face reality.. you go figure, imitated by a clash when west invades upon east with somn to say.

rly am not tryna pun, but it's all in his expression during that line call. and then of course they had to go with the reel too.. thai fucking visceral. at least they found something to keep going.

King Aaron

Review by King Aaron ★★★★

This doc is heart breaking and fascinating. It’s interesting to think about the religion angle and how it affects what was done. The ending broke my heart.

Krittiwan Chaiyawantakee

Review by Krittiwan Chaiyawantakee ★★★★

Documentary Film of people who can't move on from life.

It"s so Sad....

kkoechner

Review by kkoechner ★★★½

This is such a heartbreaking documentary. Probably the saddest documentary I've ever seen. To me personally, just seeing the mother in such pain & suffering when visiting Alcor was just..... heartbreaking. The question that I kept asking myself is is this worth it? Are they living a life in hope or pain? I'm not sure.

I did like how the documentary brought in the concept of Thai Buddhism and questioned whether freezing Eniz prevented her being reincarnated. Something, as a Westerner, I never really think about.

I don't think I could watch this again, but it was very fascinating. But, if you have a sensitive heart or a heart in general, prepare to cry.

saddymart

Review by saddymart ★★★½ 1

turns out science and religion can be exactly the same !

sarah

Review by sarah ★★★

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Hope Frozen

Hope Frozen

  • After her untimely death, a scientist from Bangkok cryo-preserves his daughter's brain. Scandal swirls around the family as they struggle to grieve a child that, in their view, is suspended between death and reawakening.
  • A two-year-old girl from Bangkok, nicknamed "Einz" became the youngest person in the world to undergo cryo-preservation. After her death from brain cancer, her family stores her remains in an American lab. Her head and brain now rest inside a tank in Arizona. Hope Frozen follows the family who made this unorthodox decision. The girl's father, a laser scientist, yearns to give Einz the opportunity to experience a rebirth inside a regenerated body. He instils this dream inside his son, a 15-year-old whiz kid named Matrix, who wants to be a part of reviving his little sister. But what the boy later discovers will rattle the family's radical hope in science. — Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival
  • When two-year-old Einz Naovaratpong was diagnosed with a terminal cancer, her parents explored every avenue to save her. Refusing to accept her death as the end, they turn to cryonics to freeze their daughter's brain in the hope that she will one day live again. With remarkable access and intimacy, Wedel follows the parents and their surviving son on this extraordinary journey, objectively presenting their challenges and dilemmas; as practicing Buddhists who are also devotees of science, how to reconcile these conflicting beliefs? Ethical, philosophical and emotional questions abound. Can the dead come back to life? And should they? This is human nature in its purest form, as the parents are fighting for their child's survival. — London Film Festival

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hope frozen movie review

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At one point in Maria Sødahl ’s superb drama “Hope,” which concerns a woman facing the onset of an illness diagnosed as terminal, a doctor describes treating cancer as “like peeling an onion.” The same might be said for the film itself. Though the story’s medical premise is quickly announced, what follows peels back layer after layer of human realities that science can’t begin to describe, beginning with the shock and disorientation the diagnosis initially provokes and continuing through the deeper realizations and understandings gradually faced by the woman, her partner, their kids, friends and extended family. These carefully unveiled discoveries make “Hope,” Norway’s submission for this year's Best International Feature Film Oscar, one of the year’s richest and most rewarding contemporary dramas.

The story comes from writer/director Sødahl’s own life. Several years ago, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, putting a sudden stop to a promising career. Obviously, she not only survived but used the rupture in her life to look back on the experience and what it taught her about herself and her closest relationships. That real-life basis helps give “Hope” a palpable aura of authenticity that extends down to its smallest emotional details. It also no doubt accounts for the grace notes of humor and lyricism that add to the artistic power of Sødahl’s achievements as writer and director, and her work with two extraordinary actors, Andrea Bræin Hovig and Stellan Skarsgård .

Set around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, “Hope” probes the relationship of two successful creative types. Anja (Hovig) is an acclaimed choreographer who’s just returned from her first foreign success when her doctor delivers the bad news: though she survived a bout of lung cancer the year before, she now has a tumor in her brain. It is certain to be terminal, she’s told, though it may still be operable (further tests and consultations with doctors will crowd the following week). While the diagnosis surprises and upsets Anja, it seems to stun her partner, theater director Tomas (Skarsgård), into a frozen, disbelieving silence.

The unmarried couple oversee a brood of six children ranging in age from ten to mid-twenties: the older three are from his previous marriage, the younger three from their union. Not least among the film’s accomplishments is Sødahl’s way of deftly describing these young people in ways that make them individually distinctive yet also part of a believable family structure. And they are paramount in Anja’s concerns when she begins to process the doctor’s news. Even as she gets buffeted by the effects of drugs that make her both high and volatile, she begins to agonize over the question of who will care for the kids when they lose their mother. 

More pressing still is the dilemma of when and how to tell them the news. Last year this time, she revealed she had lung cancer but the doctors were hopeful of treating it. This year, the news offers far less room for hope. If she’s forthcoming, she wonders half-jokingly, will it ruin Christmas for these kids forever after?

In peeling away the layers of Anja’s concern for the children and also her aged father, who’s visiting, Sødahl zeroes in on the heart of this emotional crisis: the relationship between Anja and Tomas. The more we learn of it, the more brittle it seems. At one point, she reveals that she was on the verge of leaving him a year before, only to be stopped by the previous cancer diagnosis. Told that she probably has only a few months left to live, she now seems zealous to probe her bond with Tomas to see what truth it contains, what lies. Have they been faithful to each other, or not? She admits to loving a man she didn’t pursue. Tomas sheepishly confesses to one long-ago “fling,” but says her real rival was his work.

That seems to be the most accurate diagnosis of what ails this union at is deepest level, and the fault is clearly not on his side alone. Both partners have allowed careers and kids to draw them away from each other, to the point that their life together ends up being all too perfunctory, with each one dissatisfied yet unable to express or overcome that unhappiness. But now a seemingly incurable disease forces them to face their deepest feelings for each other, and to ask whether there’s real love behind the charade of love they’ve been living.

In some ways, “Hope” calls to mind searing Bergman marital dramas like “ Scenes from a Marriage ,” but Sødahl’s touch is altogether lighter. Her pleasingly naturalistic style, abetted by Manuel Alberto Claro ’s beautifully nuanced cinematography, gives scenes and moments room to breathe, allowing viewers to absorb the textures and flavors, moods and rituals of Anja and Tomas’ spacious Olso apartment, with its never-ceasing flux of people, meals, and silences. Most of all, her directorial skills undergird the power of two of the most remarkable performances I’ve seen in a film this year.

I’d never encountered Hovig’s work before, but here it’s striking for both the vulnerability and the gut-level strength she gives Anja. There’s an essential physicality to her performance—you believe the affliction’s effects on her body—that grounds the emotional rollercoaster ride her situation takes her on. And while Skarsgård’s excellence is a dependable virtue in his distinguished career, playing Tomas brings out his most subtle skills, his ability to convey a wealth of complicated emotions in a glance, a shrug, a wince.

To be sure, cancer may not sound like an inviting cinematic subject, especially to families and individuals who—like this writer—have been faced with its sometimes-overwhelming trials. Yet the effect of “Hope” is anything but depressing; it’s reassuring proof of art’s ability to comfort as it clarifies. For my money, it’s a better film than the Scandinavian comedy that seems destined to win this year’s international feature Oscar. But Thomas Vinterberg ’s “ Another Round ” has the advantage of being one for, by and about “the boys,” while Sødahl’s triumph belongs to a more forward-looking story—the ascent of brilliant female auteurs. It should not be missed.

Now playing in select theaters.

Godfrey Cheshire

Godfrey Cheshire

Godfrey Cheshire is a film critic, journalist and filmmaker based in New York City. He has written for The New York Times, Variety, Film Comment, The Village Voice, Interview, Cineaste and other publications.

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Film credits.

Hope movie poster

Hope (2021)

126 minutes

Andrea Bræin Hovig as Anja

Stellan Skarsgård as Tomas

Elli Rhiannon Müller Osbourne as Julie

Johannes Joner as Frans

Eirik Hallert as Henrik

Gjertrud Jynge as Vera

  • Maria Sødahl

Cinematographer

  • Manuel Alberto Claro
  • Christian Siebenherz

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The 7 Most Controversial Movies on Netflix Right Now

Some of these films don't deserve the outrage, but others definitely do.

There’s an old saying in the marketing world, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity." And that’s just as true with movies as it is in advertising. Some films become controversial because of their subject matter, others because of how they’re packaged or the potentially damaging narratives they unpack. In some cases, controversy can be generated just because a movie is simply too much for certain segments of the audience to stomach. But whatever the reasons, controversy builds curiosity, and we can’t help but ask ourselves, “Could it really be that bad?” Well, when it comes to controversial content, Netflix is no exception, and there are plenty of titles in the streaming giant’s library that have polarized audiences. It’s quite a varied range, from documentaries tackling difficult subjects to genuinely good films that just happen to also be divisive, and even some movies that are controversial because they’re, well, terrible. Below, we've put together a handpicked selection of the most controversial movies on Netflix right now, but be warned, some of it is pretty harrowing stuff.

For more recommendations, check out our list of the best movies on Netflix or the best Netflix shows you can binge watch .

Disclaimer: These titles are available on US Netflix.

'365 Days' (2020)

Rotten tomatoes: 0% | imdb: 3.3/10.

Directed by Barbara Białowąs and Tomasz Mandes , 365 Days is a 2020 Polish erotic thriller film that’s based on the works of Blanka Lipińska . In the film, an Italian mobster ( Michele Morrone ) happens to see a young Warsaw woman ( Anna-Maria Sieklucka ) and instantly falls in love. When the woman visits Italy years later, he kidnaps her, imprisons her, and gives her 365 days to fall in love with him. And because this is erotica and not a hostage thriller about a woman surviving a psychopathic predator, she does exactly that. With all the literary nuance of online erotic fiction, 365 Days was predictably panned by critics. Yet, despite the overwhelmingly negative reviews, the film gained global popularity and became one of Netflix’s most-watched properties in multiple countries across continents. Unfavorably compared to the 50 Shades trilogy, the movie has been criticized for its glorification of sexual violence, predatory behavior, and the mafia. However, despite petitions to remove the film from Netflix’s library and a Golden Raspberry for Worst Screenplay, 365 Days ’ popularity still led to the release of two sequels, 365 Days: This Day and The Next 365 Days .

Watch on Netflix

'May December' (2023)

Rotten tomatoes: 91% | imdb: 6.8/10, may december.

Directed by Todd Haynes from a screenplay by Samy Burch , May December stars Natalie Portman as Elizabeth, an actress working on a movie about Gracie ( Julianne Moore ), a woman who was at the center of a national scandal 20 years before due to her relationship with her now-husband Joe ( Charles Melton ), which started when she was 36 and he was 13. As they all get to know each other, the many layers of their personalities are peeled away to reveal a complicated mess of emotions. The controversy surrounding May December is largely due to the film’s subject, but despite the uncomfortable topics of grooming and pedophilia, the movie is a fascinating watch. Both Portman and Moore deliver intense, pitch-perfect performances, with a chemistry between them that mixes hostility and sexual tension. Meanwhile, Melton is an absolute revelation in his role as a man questioning the very basis of his life. An acclaimed drama, May December won several awards and is widely considered one of the best films of 2023 .

'Cuties' (2020)

Rotten tomatoes: 86% | imdb: 3.6/10.

Written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré in her feature directorial debut, Cuties is a French drama film starring Fathia Youssouf as an 11-year-old Senegalese-French girl brought up in a traditional Muslim household who joins a twerking dance crew. While Cuties is an acclaimed and award-winning film, the reason it’s controversial is partly due to its initial marketing campaign, which included a poster showing the four young girls striking suggestive poses. This led many people to assume that the film sexualizes pre-adolescents, though the movie is, in reality, a critique of that exact kind of inappropriate hypersexualization . It also draws heavily from Doucouré’s own upbringing, exploring the pains of childhood and the clash between traditional values and the modern world. Don’t let the media storm and cancel campaign fool you — Cuties is a carefully made film that talks about serious, difficult topics through a poignant coming-of-age story, and it’s as honest as it is uncomfortable.

'Blonde' (2022)

Rotten tomatoes: 42% | imdb: 5.5/10.

Written and directed by Andrew Dominik , Blonde is a fictional take on the life of Marilyn Monroe , based on Joyce Carol Oates ’ 2000 novel of the same name. The film boasts an ensemble cast led by Ana de Armas in the lead role, appearing alongside Adrien Brody , Bobby Cannavale , Xavier Samuel , and Julianne Nicholson . Blonde was a subject of controversy even before it was released, as it received the rare NC-17 rating for its extremely graphic depictions of rape, abortion, and more. Once it came out, the film became even more controversial because it’s an exploitative, sexist, and disrespectful take on Monroe’s life . While purporting to be a critique of how Marilyn Monroe was exploited by Hollywood, the film goes ahead and exploits her image even more, which ironically underscores its central point: Marilyn deserved better. Blonde ’s one saving grace is Armas’ performance as Monroe, which earned the actor nominations for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and more.

'The Bleeding Edge' (2018)

Rotten tomatoes: 100% | imdb: 7.6/10, the bleeding edge.

A Netflix original documentary film, The Bleeding Edge is an investigation into the $400 billion medical device industry and the lax regulations and corporate cover-ups that are putting patients at risk on a daily basis. Written and directed by Kirby Dick and produced by Amy Ziering and Amy Herdy , the film focuses primarily on the biotech and pharma giant Bayer and its Essure birth control device. The Bleeding Edge has received widespread critical acclaim and has been hailed as an eye-opening piece of investigative filmmaking. Unlike some of the entries on this list, the film is controversial for all the right reasons, as it brings to light a glaring issue in the medical industry that has a serious impact on the lives of millions. It has reportedly had a significant impact not just on the public at large but also on doctors and other industry professionals, who have raised calls for stricter testing and evidence for medical devices before they’re given FDA approval.

'Open Wide' (2024)

Imdb: 5.8/10.

Directed by Sara Goldblatt and distributed by A24 , Open Wide is a documentary film about an orthodontist father-son duo who went viral for their controversial method of reshaping people’s jawlines. Its subjects, John and Mike Mew, present themselves as underdogs fighting against the establishment to popularize a ground-breaking new medical technique that can lift the jawline, alleviate pain, improve sleep, and supposedly even cure speech disorders. The only problem with that story is that the technique, called “mewing”, is not actually scientifically proven. The film has generated a ton of backlash for delivering a platform for what can only be termed a pseudoscience. While mewing isn’t necessarily harmful, the only real reason anyone pays attention to it is because it is a TikTok trend. To its credit, Open Wide is more concerned with the people than the technique, focusing on the story of a family fighting for what they believe in. The fact that what they believe in is a load of hooey is just an unfortunate side effect.

'Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice' (2019)

Imdb: 6.5/10, hope frozen: a quest to live twice.

A 2019 Thai documentary film that was added to Netflix in September 2020 , Hope Frozen was directed by Pailin Wedel , who also co-wrote the movie with Nina Ijäs . The documentary follows the heartbreaking story of a Thai scientist and his family cryogenically preserving the head of their two-year-old daughter, who died of brain cancer in 2015. An acclaimed film, Hope Frozen was released on Netflix under the title Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice , and became the first Thai production to win the International Emmy Award for Best Documentary. Why is it controversial? Because cryogenics, the process of freezing a clinically dead body in the hopes of future revival, simply does not work. Hope Frozen also faced criticism for focusing on the pseudoscientific headline and missing the real human story of a grieving family. While those are all valid concerns, the film remains a moving document of real-life pain, the clash of science and religion, and the lengths to which people will go to hold on to the ones they love.

hope frozen movie review

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'IF' review: Fun, fairweather family flick that leaves you wondering 'what if?'

  • Movie Review

Friday, 24 May 2024

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Why are you called 'Blue' when you are clearly purple? — Photos: UIP Malaysia

IF is a decent family movie that ticks all the right boxes. Cute and weird creatures? Check. Charming leads with good chemistry? Check. An emotional heartbeat centred around a father and his daughter? Check. A message about using your imagination to make your world a better place? Check.

The movie stars Cailey Fleming as 12-year-old Bea, whose father (John Krasinski, who also directs the film) is undergoing heart surgery in New York, so she ends up living with her grandmother’s (Fiona Shaw) apartment.

Bea then meets one of her neighbours, Cal (Reynolds), who apparently has a pretty magical job – he helps find new kids for imaginary friends whose creators have grown up and forgotten about them. With nothing better to do (apparently), Bea decides to help Cal with his mission, and along the way, she discovers emotions and memories that she had long forgotten.

It was getting incresingly hard to ignore the elephant, or rather, the big blue monster in the room.

While IF is a charming enough family film, I was left with an overbearing sense of ‘if only’ after the movie.

If only Krasinski had taken more risks with his direction, instead of settling for this sweet but somewhat bland end result. It’s not a bad thing, of course, but you do get the feeling that there is so much more he could have done with his characters, especially the IFs.

If only Reynolds had been given more room to experiment and go a bit wilder with his role. Yes, this is a family movie, so a raunchy, violent Deadpool-esque performance is out of the question, but Reynolds has proven before that he can do so much more with a character if he is given a chance. As it is, Cal just comes across as a grouchy grown-up saddled with an undesirable job, which is weird for a guy who can supposedly see imaginary friends.

Blossom was not very good at playing hide and seek.

Last but not least, if only the IFs had more time to shine and develop their backstories more. Individually, the IFs are an interesting bunch, and range from floating bubbles, a talking glass of water, and an invisible one that seems to do nothing but lie on the floor (and is curiously, credited to Brad Pitt).

However, despite the stellar voice cast attached to these IFs (which includes the likes of Awkwafina, Emily Blunt, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Amy Schumer, and Jon Stewart among others), none of them truly stand out enough to register as anything other than ‘cute’ or quaint’.

The auditions for Deadpool: The Family Friendly Edition was not going well.

The only ones who get enough screentime to develop their characters are the jolly, big and furry Blue (voiced by Steve Carrell), dancing butterfly Blossom (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and old-timey teddy bear Lewis (the late Louis Gossett Jr.), and honestly, they were arguably the three safest and blandest of the lot.

That is ultimately the problem with this movie – Krasinski just plays it too safe with his story and characters, and the result is a decent but ultimately unmemorable film that may tick all the right boxes, but could do with some thinking out of the box as well.

The movie may ask you ‘what’s an IF?’, but in the end, you’re left wondering ‘what if?’ instead.

Fun family fare but plays it too safe to be memorable

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'IF' review: Fun, fairweather family flick that leaves you wondering 'what if?'

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hope frozen movie review

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hope frozen movie review

Cares less about what the outside world thinks about this unique decision than about the stew of motivations and justifications that drove the family to embark on their quest.

Full Review | Feb 3, 2021

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‘Megalopolis’ Review: Francis Ford Coppola’s Wild and Delirious Fever Dream Inspires New Hope for the Future of Movies

David ehrlich.

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hope frozen movie review

After more than 40 years of idly fantasizing about the project (and more than 20 years of actively trying to finance it), Coppola is bringing “ Megalopolis ” to screens at a moment when his chosen medium is struggling to find a way forward, and the world around it seems teetering on the brink of collapse. Just as in 63 B.C., when an evil patrician named Catiline appealed to a coalition of malcontents in a bid to overthrow the Republic, we are choked by the grip of delusional aristocrats and vertically integrated conglomerates whose lust for power and profit is only matched by their lack of foresight. Even with the past as our guide, we are at imminent risk of allowing the now to destroy the forever.  Related Stories ‘Atlas’ Review: Jennifer Lopez Is the Only Person Who Realizes AI Is Evil in Glum Netflix Sci-Fi Outing George Miller Confused Anya Taylor-Joy for Her Stunt Double ‘a Lot’ on ‘Furiosa’

Coppola has always believed in America, but his faith is eroding by the second, and “Megalopolis” is nothing if not the boldest and most open-hearted of his many bids to stop time before it’s too late (an effort that has informed so much of his career, from “Peggy Sue Got Married” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” to “Youth After Youth” and “Jack”). As ever, he recognizes the futility in the attempt, even if his characters are sometimes a bit slow on the uptake. 

With “Megalopolis,” he crams 85 years worth of artistic reverence and romantic love into a clunky, garish, and transcendently sincere manifesto about the role of an artist at the end of an empire. It doesn’t just speak to Coppola’s philosophy, it embodies it to its bones. To quote one of the sharper non-sequiturs from a script that’s swimming in them: “When we leap into the unknown, we prove that we are free.”

Like Cesar, it might be for the best if we take a step back. Let’s start with New Rome, which is pretty much just downtown Atlanta cosplaying as a modern-day Manhattan that’s been artificially saturated with a vanilla skyline and set-dressed to resemble a Joel Schumacher Batman movie (complete with the same faux-debauched energy, and a host of glaring digital flourishes that also locate “Megalopolis” somewhere in the vicinity of Vera Drew’s “The People’s Joker,” the only other movie so far this year that can match the go-for-broke visual exuberance on display here).

Cesar’s great hope for the future of this hodgepodge city is a new element he invented called Megalon, which glows yellow, does whatever is most convenient for the scene at hand, and may or may not have played a role in the tragic death of his wife. “Megalopolis” is of course dedicated to Coppola’s late wife Eleanor, who died after the completion of the film , but whose loving memory nevertheless casts a long shadow over this story about a self-involved iconoclast whose mind is always obsessively preoccupied with his work. 

The DA who prosecuted the city’s failed homicide case against Cesar is now the mayor of New Rome, and our hero’s rival in the bid to control the megalopolis’ levers of power; his name is Franklyn Cicero (natch), he’s played by a game and jowly Giancarlo Esposito, and his beautiful daughter Julia will soon become Cesar’s closest advisor and most intimate muse (credit to Nathalie Emmanuel, doing her best with a wooden character in a film that reduces all of its women to cartoons in the face of male genius). Cesar envisions a New Rome that “people can dream about,” while Cicero hopes to build “a fun casino” with more practical dividends. 

That sort of creatively unbound approach may not have resulted in a surplus of dramatically coherent scenes, but it undergirds the entire movie with a looseness that makes it almost impossible to look away. You never know when Grace VanderWaal might split into five identical clones of herself while singing an original pop anthem about her virginity, or when Laurence Fishburne — back for more of the fun he had with Coppola on the set of “Apocalypse Now” — might invoke some more wisdom via his voiceover narration, or when Aubrey Plaza’s gold-digging seductress/news anchor might shift her overt sexual attention to a different member of New Rome’s ruling class. Her character’s name is Wow Platinum, because every generation gets the “Southland Tales” it deserves. First she’s hot for Cesar, then for his gazillionaire banker uncle Hamilton Crassus III (Jon Voight), and finally for Crassus’ sociopathic court jester of a son, Clodio Pulcher (a palpably malevolent Shia LaBeouf). 

The story is sustained by the sheer force of Coppola’s enthusiasm for it, and it hardly seems to matter that each scene feeds into the next with the grace of a wave crashing into a jetty — not when it’s so exciting to see what might happen next, and stray moments of transcendent surprise can be found hiding in even the flattest stretches. Two people connected by an invisible rope as they run through a hallway. A fallen rose suspended in mid-air. A rain-slicked noir chase sequence melting into a vision of eternal devotion. 

'Megalopolis'

So while it might be tempting to see this kooky, nepotistically cloistered, and unconscionably expensive magnum opus as the self-involved work of a fading artist who’s lost whatever was left of his ability to tell good ideas from bad, “Megalopolis” does everything in its power to remind the audience that we share in the outcome of its demented fever dream. Which isn’t to say that we’re obligated to make this particular movie a success, only that we’d do well to examine the source of whatever hostility it might reflexively produce within us. Why does change scare us so much that we’d sooner forfeit our freedom to imagine a better world than reckon with the possibilities such freedom allows? Quoth Marcus Aurelius again: “The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make of it.” 

“I will not let time have dominion over my thoughts,” Cesar repeats to himself as a compulsive mantra. “Artists can never lose their control of time,” Julia tells him. “Painters freeze it, poets sing of it, musicians rhythmatize it…,” she trails off. What do filmmakers do? They stop it to remind us that we can’t. With the profoundly moving final shot of “Megalopolis,” Coppola insists that’s all the more reason to fight for the future. 

“Megalopolis” premiered in Competition at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival. It is currently seeking U.S. distribution.

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Film Review: ‘Furiosa’ and hope in the time of the apocalypse

Writer and Journalist Sammie Purcell

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Anya Taylor-Joy in 'Furiosa' (Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures).

When it comes to action filmmaking, “Mad Max: Fury Road” upped the game in 2015. If anything can be universally agreed upon by critics and audiences alike, it has to be this. George Miller’s action opus is a thrill ride like no other, a nonstop chase movie of post-apocalyptic proportions that roars with a fury fitting of its name. 

So, “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” Miller’s follow up to “Fury Road,” had a lot resting on its shoulders. And from the jump, it’s clear Miller has no interest in simply repeating what he achieved in 2015. 

Instead, we open with a different sort of chase. “Furiosa” follows the story of its titular character before she embarks on her “Fury Road” mission, before she attempts to rescue Immortan Joe’s wives from enslavement. We meet her as a young girl in the green place, an oasis hidden amid empty desert. But we don’t spend too much time languishing in its abundance. Furiosa is quickly captured by a rogue gang who aim to bring her to their leader across a wide expanse of sand – she’s proof this place of beauty exists, proof there is something out there that can support life, not just survival. Her mother (Charlee Fraser) follows Furiosa’s kidnappers, and a western-style pursuit unfolds – one woman slowly, but surely, gaining ground on her enemies, methodically taking them out one by one.  

From this focused opening sequence, “Furiosa” expands into a story that operates on a much larger scale than “Fury Road,” not just following one woman’s mission via car chase, but attempting to unpack that woman’s history, her trauma and her life over the span of roughly two and a half hours. As impressive as the scale of the film can be, sometimes the sheer colossal ambition of it all can overpower the film’s emotional core, particularly in the film’s midsection. But through the relationship between Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her biggest foe, a warlord name Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), Miller gets to the crux of our relationship to hope – why it disappears, why it perseveres, and what we’re willing to do to keep it. 

It’s difficult not to compare Taylor-Joy’s performance to that of Charlize Theron in “Fury Road,” but the two are asked to do such different things, it feels fruitless. The characterization, however, is worth the comparison. After Furiosa is abducted and taken to Dementus, we then track her through every move before the events of “Fury Road,” from being Dementus’ ward, to one of Immortan Joe’s (Lachy Hulme) wives, to a builder on the war rig, to a driver herself. All the while, she vibrates with a rage that seems on the precipice of bursting out of her, waiting for the moment she can exact revenge on Dementus – the man who kidnapped her and murdered her mother. 

Rage is the primary motivator for Furiosa in this film, while in “Fury Road,” Theron has a bit more nuance to play with. By that time, the anger we see in “Furiosa” has simmered to determination and sorrow, and when we see her let loose that famous primal scream, it’s a moment of payoff, her anger finally rising to the surface. In contrast, this younger version of Furiosa is trapped in a constant state of anger. Taylor-Joy is very good in rage mode, her eyes searing with hurt and fury, but she never has much of an opportunity to play with much else besides survival and rage until the film’s final confrontation. 

If one thing is constant, however, it’s the sense of isolation that permeates the character. The earlier sections of the movie with young Furiosa (played by the startlingly arresting Alyla Browne) feel more like a memory, aggressively unreal and ethereal, not at all like the practicality of “Fury Road.” That might have been a decision of necessity, but as Furiosa ages it’s almost like the picture becomes a little more clear, her quest for vengeance sharpening her vision, cutting out everything else. Taylor-Joy has spoken about how alone she felt on set, and that feeling of loneliness is everywhere. Every single shot of Furiosa in the desert – running away from something, driving toward revenge, stumbling through the dust holding her stump of an arm – punctuates just how alone she is. 

“Furiosa” sags a bit in the middle under the weight of the vague political machinations running amuck between the leaders of the Citadel, Gastown, and the Bullet Farm. There are stunning action set pieces in this section, including the film’s best as Furiosa stows away beneath a war rig under attack before teaming up with the rig’s driver and her reluctant mentor, Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke). The visuals here further prove how adept Miller is at creating an exhilarating action set piece, once again putting images on screen that I would never have imagined in a million years. But the moments of political intrigue that pad the action don’t go far enough to be anything but filler, stalling the high that the action – as well as the connection between Furiosa and Dementus – provides.

The film is at its best narratively when it focuses on that connection . From the moment we meet him, Dementus’ primary motivation is to take Furiosa’s hope and turn it into ash. But Hemsworth delivers a performance that’s far more complex than a simple villain. In a lot of ways, he has the toughest role, given the task of embodying so many of the film’s major themes, being the comic relief as much as he is the heavy, and instilling in the audience some sort of sympathetic note by the film’s end.

Physically, he’s preposterous – dressed in BDSM-style harnesses and leathers, a cape billowing out behind him like a cheap imitation of a Roman God, the teddy bear of the children he has lost strapped to his person. He speeds around the desert on a chariot of motorcycles and never goes anywhere without his legions of hype men and a microphone. He is pro wrestling personified, charismatic and powerful when he is posturing, but lacking when there’s anything of substance to be done.  

In true pro wrestling fashion, Hemsworth hams it up, quips flying around like arrows. But there’s something a bit off about the humor, lacking any real conviction. In his best scene, he lambasts Furiosa for daring to hope for something better, lamenting that she is breaking his heart by doing so – and you believe he means it, his voice laden with a grief that permeates through the rest of his body. He despises her hope above all else, not because he doesn’t want her to be happy, but because he views it as a fruitless endeavor. In his twisted mind, it’s a kindness to dash Furiosa’s hopes to dust rather than let her believe. 

Dementus hides behind a mask of nihilism to hide his own pain, much like Furiosa hides behind her vengeance. He is rage fueled by grief – says as much himself – and isn’t that what started this whole nasty business in the first place? In so many ways, “Furiosa” feels darker than “Fury Road,” the latter’s madcap energy and humor replaced by a bleak imitation, because that’s all “Furiosa” can stomach. But as bleak as things are, Furiosa doesn’t succumb to that darkness – we know that about her. She will not let herself be consumed by her rage like Dementus. Her final blow to him is a punishment fitting of a man who lost hope, who tried to take it away from her. Strangely, in the process, they both might be able to give some to others.

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta. More by Sammie Purcell

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COMMENTS

  1. HOPE FROZEN: A QUEST TO LIVE TWICE : STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

    01:55. Netflix documentary Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice chronicles how a Thai family had their two-year-old daughter cryogenically frozen after she passed away due to brain cancer. The story ...

  2. Hope Frozen

    Hope Frozen (2018) Hope Frozen (2018) Hope Frozen (2018) Hope Frozen (2018) View more photos Movie Info. Synopsis A Buddhist scientist in Bangkok freezes his daughter's brain.

  3. Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice Movie Review

    Our review: Parents say: Not yet rated Rate movie. Kids say: Not yet rated Rate movie. This is an odd documentary, primarily about mourning and grief, and not so much about the cryogenics. Hope Frozen doesn't dwell on many details that would explain the cryogenics process, and much of the visual experience is devoted to nameless filler ...

  4. Hope Frozen: A Quest To Live Twice documentary film review

    Film review by Nathanial Eker. Netflix's new documentary film Hope Frozen is truly amazing. It somehow manages to take some of the most compelling and emotive topics (religion vs science, the sanctity of life debate, and the death of a toddler) and drain any and all captivation. This is a story that should grip us and leave us breathless.

  5. Netflix's Hope Frozen: A Quest To Live Twice Review: A Hope To Be

    Grief, Hope, and Science! Hope Frozen: A Quest To Live Twice revolves around the lives of the Naovaratpong family who decided to cryogenically freeze their daughter Einz (meaning love) who, at the age of 2 years, unexpectedly fell into a coma due to a fatal form of brain cancer that has 0% survival rate. After multiple surgeries and procedures ...

  6. 'Hope Frozen': Grief, optimism and science intersect in ...

    The Naovaratpong family is willing to go to any length and themselves remain frozen in the grief in their efforts to keep Einz and her memory alive. While Matrix seems quite well-adjusted, we cannot help but wonder what toll the experience will have on him. 'Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice' is now streaming on Netflix.

  7. Hope Frozen review: The hard ethics of cryogenically freezing a child

    Netflix's Hope Frozen documentary follows a family in Thailand that cryogenically freezes their 2-year-old daughter's brain after she dies, creating a controversy-fuelled media storm. Hope ...

  8. Review: 'Hope Frozen'

    Hope Frozen might be a scientifically fascinating study of familial devotion or a morbid portrait of selfishness depending on how one interprets Wedel's objective film. It can be both, as the film approaches the debate from numerous angles of science, ethics, faith, and family. It's hard to say how many people died when Einz passed away on ...

  9. Hope Frozen: A Quest To Live Twice

    A Thai scientist and his family decide to cryonically freeze their cherished, dying toddler. This heartfelt documentary follows their journey.Subscribe: http...

  10. Hope Frozen, Netflix Thai documentary about cryonic freezing of girl's

    Hope Frozen is the first feature-length film of Wedel, a freelance videographer for various media including Al Jazeera English, The New York Times and National Geographic. She secured funding for ...

  11. Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice

    A Thai scientist and his family decide to cryonically freeze their cherished, dying toddler. This heartfelt documentary follows their journey. Watch trailers & learn more.

  12. Hope Frozen

    Hope Frozen is a 2019 Thai documentary film directed and co-written by Pailin Wedel, together with Nina Ijäs, and released by 2050 Productions. It follows a Thai couple who, after their three-year-old daughter dies of brain cancer in 2015, decide to have her body cryogenically preserved.

  13. Watch Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice

    Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice. 2020 | Maturity Rating: U/A 13+ | 1h 19m | Documentaries. A Thai scientist and his family decide to cryonically freeze their cherished, dying toddler. This heartfelt documentary follows their journey. ... This movie is... Controversial, Cerebral, Inspiring. Audio.

  14. Hope Frozen: a Quest to Live Twice Lands on Netflix

    Hope Frozen directed by Pailin Wedel has been recognized with numerous international awards. Her documentary won Best International Feature Documentary at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival 2019. At San Antonio Independent Film Festival 2020, Pailin won Best Documentary Feature for her documentary from more than 900 films that ...

  15. Watch Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice

    Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice. 2020 | Maturity rating: PG | 1h 19m | Documentary. A Thai scientist and his family decide to cryonically freeze their cherished, dying toddler. This heartfelt documentary follows their journey. Watch all you want.

  16. Hope Frozen: A Quest To Live Twice

    Wow, this was a tough watch!. The Naovaratpong families' buddhist beliefs contrast with their outright faith in science. Beautifully and respectfully filmed, Hope Frozen: A Quest To Live Twice is a fascinating look at a families longing to keep the memory of their loved one alive.

  17. Watch Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice

    A Thai scientist and his family decide to cryonically freeze their cherished, dying toddler. This heartfelt documentary follows their journey. Watch trailers & learn more.

  18. Hope Frozen (2019)

    Hope Frozen: Directed by Pailin Wedel. With Max More, Matrix Naovaratpong, Nareerat Naovaratpong, Sahatorn Naovaratpong. After her untimely death, a scientist from Bangkok cryo-preserves his daughter's brain. Scandal swirls around the family as they struggle to grieve a child that, in their view, is suspended between death and reawakening.

  19. Hope Frozen (2019)

    Hope Frozen (2019) on IMDb: Movies, TV, Celebs, and more... Menu. Movies. Release Calendar Top 250 Movies Most Popular Movies Browse Movies by Genre Top Box Office Showtimes & Tickets Movie News India Movie Spotlight. ... User Reviews Review this title 12 Reviews. Hide Spoilers. Sort by: ...

  20. Hope Frozen (2019)

    Summaries. After her untimely death, a scientist from Bangkok cryo-preserves his daughter's brain. Scandal swirls around the family as they struggle to grieve a child that, in their view, is suspended between death and reawakening. A two-year-old girl from Bangkok, nicknamed "Einz" became the youngest person in the world to undergo cryo ...

  21. Hope Frozen (2020)

    Hope Frozen follows the family who made this unorthodox decision. The girl's father, a laser scientist, yearns to give Einz the opportunity to experience a rebirth inside a regenerated body. He instils this dream inside his son, a 15-year-old whiz kid named Matrix, who wants to be a part of reviving his little sister.

  22. Hope movie review & film summary (2021)

    Powered by JustWatch. At one point in Maria Sødahl 's superb drama "Hope," which concerns a woman facing the onset of an illness diagnosed as terminal, a doctor describes treating cancer as "like peeling an onion.". The same might be said for the film itself. Though the story's medical premise is quickly announced, what follows ...

  23. Why 'Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire' Is One Of 2024's Biggest Hit Movies

    Sony Pictures. With a worldwide box office gross of $198.4 million (and still in theaters), Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is currently the fourth-biggest movie of 2024. Domestically, it holds the ...

  24. The Most Controversial Movies on Netflix Right Now (May 2024)

    A 2019 Thai documentary film that was added to Netflix in September 2020, Hope Frozen was directed by Pailin Wedel, who also co-wrote the movie with Nina Ijäs. The documentary follows the ...

  25. It will take years to appreciate 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga'

    But God bless him, Miller tried to do it anyway. This week, he delivers "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga" to theaters, and you better believe that audiences, myself included, are psyched. "Furiosa ...

  26. 'IF' review: Fun, fairweather family flick that leaves you wondering

    The movie stars Cailey Fleming as 12-year-old Bea, whose father (John Krasinski, who also directs the film) is undergoing heart surgery in New York, so she ends up living with her grandmother's ...

  27. Hope Frozen

    Rotten Tomatoes, home of the Tomatometer, is the most trusted measurement of quality for Movies & TV. The definitive site for Reviews, Trailers, Showtimes, and Tickets ... Hope Frozen 1h 15m

  28. Megalopolis Review: Coppola Inspires New Hope for the Future of Movies

    With "Megalopolis," he crams 85 years worth of artistic reverence and romantic love into a clunky, garish, and transcendently sincere manifesto about the role of an artist at the end of an ...

  29. Film Review: 'Furiosa' and hope in the time of the apocalypse

    George Miller's action opus is a thrill ride like no other, a nonstop chase movie of post-apocalyptic proportions that roars with a fury fitting of its name. So, "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga," Miller's follow up to "Fury Road," had a lot resting on its shoulders. And from the jump, it's clear Miller has no interest in simply repeating ...

  30. FROSTY BOY OF LOWELL

    1 review and 2 photos of FROSTY BOY OF LOWELL "Love the broasted chicken they specialize in and they have the best potato wedges too. Frosty boy will be a big hit in Lowell too ! Hope they continue to plant sunflowers in the garden next to it that the Balls had always beautifully maintained for the community"