LX 2048, the newest film from writer/director Guy Moshe (Bunraku), has unexpected resonance during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the film’s future, the ozone layer has been stripped away so much that humanity shelters in place during the day and are really only active during the night. Even then, most people opt to live their lives through clones or virtual reality, except for Adam Bird (James D’Arcy). He insists on going to a physical office during the day even though it means wearing a heat suit outside. He also doesn’t use a clone and even actively scorns people who do, including his wife Reena (Anna Brewster). In fact, he doesn’t seem to care much for his own family who all are glued to their VR sets in separate rooms. Yet Adam hypocritically carries on an affair with a virtual avatar of his own creation, Maria (Gabrielle Cassi), and believes that he has a truer connection with her than with his wife and family.
Adam’s confused motivation is reflective of the problem at the core of the movie. LX 2048 is basically juggling two competing plots that lead to a fragmented and needlessly complicated narrative. Does he want to have a real life with his family and his wife, or does he want a life purely of his own construction with the virtual Maria? The script does not really make that choice plot-wise, which makes it difficult to invest in Adam’s character. He simply comes off as a selfish jerk who wants it both ways even when he clearly can’t.
James D’Arcy struggles valiantly with his character, but Moshe does not give much to work with. For instance, he gives D’Arcy extended scenes in which he seems to be talking to himself. It makes sense because he is talking on the phone or through VR technology, but not hearing the other side of the conversation causes these scenes to be laughable. This film clearly had a limited budget, so Moshe puts a lot on his actors, mainly D’Arcy. Often this means that D’Arcy has to talk to himself. An early scene when he’s swearing at his wife over the phone comes off as off-putting even though, according to Adam, she was clearly in the wrong. Even when we do meet Reena, she is so thinly drawn with nonexistent motives that it’s not surprising when Brewster cannot shade her performance with any complexity.
The story itself is cobbled from obvious sources such as Brave New World (there’s a state-issued pill called 001LithiumX) and multiple Black Mirror episodes about cloning and virtual reality. Perhaps the most interesting thing about LX 2048 is figuring out the mythos of the world that Moshe has created, but when we see so little of it outside of Adam’s luxurious house, it’s hard to be interested in what he has done. We get hints of it from characters that Adam either visits or visit him, which makes the film feel like a play with multiple characters sharing exposition, and not much else. Even a usually stellar Delroy Lindo is forced into giving a lame monologue about his secret advances in cloning while seated awkwardly on a low chair.
Moshe should get credit for doing the best he could with what was probably very limited resources. His use of visual effects and even shots of the searing hot LA sun give compelling hints of what could have been a better-developed world. But the derivativeness of his story and lack of interesting characters make LX 2048 a storytelling dump that leads nowhere.