Combustible Celluloid Review - Humane (2024), Michael Sparaga, Caitlin Cronenberg, Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Peter Gallagher, Enrico Colantoni, Sebastian Chacon, Alanna Bale, Sirena Gulamgaus, Uni Park, Martin Roach, Joel Gagne
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With: Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Peter Gallagher, Enrico Colantoni, Sebastian Chacon, Alanna Bale, Sirena Gulamgaus, Uni Park, Martin Roach, Joel Gagne
Written by: Michael Sparaga
Directed by: Caitlin Cronenberg
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, and language throughout
Running Time: 93
Date: 04/26/2024

Humane (2024)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Climate Strange

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A dystopian sci-fi story, a darkly comic skewering of American capitalism and greed, and a gory horror tale, Caitlin Cronenberg's Humane doesn't always achieve a satisfying balance, but it's never boring.

It's the near future, and Climate Change has worsened immeasurably. The UN decrees that each industrial nation must decrease its population by 20%. The United States adopts an "enlistment" program, in which "volunteers" for euthanasia will be issued a $250,000 check for their surviving family members.

The wealthy Charles York (Peter Gallagher) summons his four children to dine with him. Under duress, TV political commentator Jared (Jay Baruchel), troubled mother Rachel (Emily Hampshire), adopted piano prodigy Noah (Sebastian Chacon), who has been battling addiction, and struggling actor Ashley (Alanna Bale), all arrive. Additionally, despite warnings, Rachel brings along her teen daughter Mia (Sirena Gulamgaus).

Charles's second wife, professional chef Dawn (Uni Park), prepares a beautiful dinner before Charles announces that they will be "enlisting." Dawn gets cold feet and disappears before Bob (Enrico Colantoni) shows up to perform the procedure. The siblings say goodbye to their father, and then Bob informs them that he needs a second body to replace Dawn's. And it needs to be one of theirs. They have two hours to decide.

A directorial debut by photographer Cronenberg, who is also the daughter of legendary horror master David Cronenberg, Humane begins with a hauntingly realistic depiction of Climate Change's dire effects, including images of people carrying reflective umbrellas to protect them from the now-deadly sunlight. That strikes an effectively oppressive tone that carries through the rest of the story.

The "Eat-the-Rich" elements are nothing new, with the characters' unethical, inhumane greed showing through, much as they try to hide it. (Outside of Bob, who occupies a different role here, there are no middle- or lower-class people to create a juxtaposition; there's no depiction of the "haves" versus the "have nots.")

The stalking-and-killing section is competently handled, with our affections falling on Noah, with a scar on his face, and a sad, soft demeanor; he's clearly suffered and has come out the other side with a measure of empathy. But, given his status as the adopted brother, he becomes the target. At the end of Humane, however, it is abundantly clear that there are no heroes in this story, and that the villain is humanity itself for its general disregard and apathy toward the future and toward our own kind.

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