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SELF/LESS (review)


Written by David Pastor and Alex Pastor / Directed by Tarsem Singh / Starring Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley and Matthew Goode

The tagline for Tarsem Singh’s SELF/LESS reads “What if you could live forever?” What it really should say is “What if you could go from being saggy, old Ben Kingsley to hot, six-packed Ryan Reynolds?” The former promises intrigue; the latter just promises ridiculousness, which is what you get with this movie.

Kingsley does his worst Al Pacino impression as Damian Hale, a real-estate millionaire dying of a terminal illness. While getting his affairs in order, Damian learns of Phoenix Biogenics, a secret company that offers their services to the richest of people, offering the dying a second (third, fourth, or fifth) shot at life. Thus, after Matthew Goode’s Albright spouts some science jargon mumbo-jumbo, Damian fakes his death, before awakening in the body of Reynolds. Damian is now really sexy and super cool, so like anyone would do if they woke up as Ryan Reynolds, he goes clubbing and gets laid. After having fun for a couple weeks, Damian, who has been a jerk his entire life, decides to do a bit of research and find out what his Ryan Reynolds body was doing before he inhabited it. This is where SELF/LESS turns from smart sci-fi to dumb action and completely falls apart.


The sudden shift that occurs halfway through SELF/LESS is unfortunate for many reasons. The film actually has a lot going for it in the beginning and even after the transformation, there are many other routes the film could have taken. I personally would have had no problem watching a Freaky Friday style film for two hours. Instead what we get is the most generic of action plots in which Ryan Reynolds Damian goes to find the pre-Damian Ryan Reynolds’ family, getting everyone into a ton of trouble. So we get chase scenes and gun fights and yada yada yada. It’s all stuff we’ve seen before.

Ultimately, the blame here has to get to brother screenwriters David and Alex Pastor. We just have to make them the scapegoats, since Singh actually does some interesting stuff from a directorial standpoint, specifically in his choreographing of the film’s chase scenes.


Making things even more frustrating is the character of Damian himself, or rather the actors that play him. I get the impression that at no point in pre-production did Kingsley and Reynolds discuss how they would play this character. It is important to remember that they are playing the same person, so one should expect similar body language and dialect. This is not the case. One will really have to suspend their disbelief to believe that these two were ever the same person.

As there is no chance that anyone will just watch the first thirty minutes of this film and then leave inexplicably, there is no avoiding how horrible it becomes for anyone who decides to embark on this journey. That said, one would be better off to Pay/Less, Sit/Less, and just not see SELF/LESS altogether.

2 sheep

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Self/Less?



  1. After watching the trailer on youtube before viewing the movie it was obvious what the outcome would be.

  2. Was a not bad movie. But my mind wondered at some parts.

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