“Teknolust” uses color and other visual devices to create a wholly imaginative world of the near future, where cloning is close to being a reality. The film has a familiar plot — someone creates/discovers/unleashes a Doppelganger of himself — but with one significant difference. Unlike most movies about twins and lookalikes, this one’s very, very boring.
OK, technically I think we’re supposed to call it “stylized.” There is definitely a style at work here, the way everyone speaks so coolly, and how the movie seems like it’s in a trance, and how everyone is weirdly emotionless. As I once heard a director tell an actor, “I don’t know if that was a choice or a mistake, but if it was a choice, it was a mistake.”
The story is of a mousy, bespectacled scientist named Rosetta Stone (Tilda Swinton) who has created three clones of herself. Swinton plays each of them, too, and they are named for the color they wear: Ruby, Marinne (blue) and Olivia (green). While Rosetta herself is a tamped-down shy girl, her clones are quite the party gals, with Ruby especially having sex with random men as often as possible.
The reason for all the shenanigans is that Ruby and her sisters (or whatever they are) need the sperm to stay alive. The problem with this is that they have been unwittingly spreading a strange, non-fatal virus among their partners.
This puts the police on a search to find whoever’s responsible for the mini-epidemic, and some truly bizarre things take place. There is a female detective named Dirty Dick (Karen Black), and a doctor who always whispers (Al Nazemian).
It all turns out to be curiously pointless, as the lack of emotion throughout the film leads to no emotion at the plot’s climax.
Writer/director Lynn Hershman-Leeson has previously made several techno-themed movies, with titles like “Virtual Love,” “Seduction of a Cyborg,” “Double Cross Click Click” and the somewhat-remembered “Conceiving Ada” (which also featured Tilda Swinton and Karen Black). I have not seen any of them, so I can’t speak to whether the flatness of “Teknolust” is simply her way of doing things. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste.
Tilda Swinton is a fun actress to watch, so it’s frustrating to see her as four different characters when each is more dull than the last. The film’s high point is early on, when the three clones perform an odd dance routine for Rosetta; after that, it’s downhill.
The various people responsible for cinematography, art direction, production design and costuming are to be commended for giving the film a truly unique look. It is bright and colorful and quite striking to look at. Unfortunately, this is a talkie, not a silent film, and none of the people talking has anything in particular to say.
D (1 hr., 24 min.; )