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A focus/test group is introduced to the world’s leading techno-game designer, Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who will guide them through her latest game, eXistenZ, which plugs directly into your spine with an umbilical cord attached to a pod that controls the game. In this set up, each player lives the game. The adventure begins even before we know it, as the young security guard, Ted Pikul (Jude Law), is forced to help save Allegra from fanatic assassins. The two are sent on an extraordinary journey, in and out of their own existence, which may or may not be part of the game. Like a Chinese Box, the game and the reality are inside each other…somewhere…somehow…

"Brave New World and 1984 were books that warned us of a future in which our humanity was subsumed by a greater force, one that meant well in a paternalistic and heavy handed way (rather like communism) and grew to be belligerent and malignantly anti-humanistic. Cronenberg’s eXistenZ is not as literate or deeply developed, and is certainly less accessible, except on a superficial level. Its symbolism is confusing, but its entertainment value is…well, eXtremE. Whether Cronenberg means us to take him at face value about the potential for computer games is unclear; what he does make clear is that he means us to take him very seriously indeed, in his cinematic thrill ride mode. Many scenes are viscerally revolting: squelchy innards and gooey substances abound. But it’s all part of the Cronenberg’s infatuation with the bizarre, creating a library of images that shock the senses – as many of them as possible. (I imagine he’d be the first director to use Odourama, if and when it becomes available…) So be warned; blood and guts are plentiful. But don’t be put off; it’s edgy and unpredictable, it has a few subtle playful aspects (clue: check out some of the names and some of the inventions), which is perhaps why it’s rated a mere M. Above all, it is a galactic leap from any other film you’re likely to see this week. Or this month. Perhaps this whole year. Another thing: note how the game designer is female. And Jude Law is sensational in what is a fully franked, genuine, certified B movie made for the Saturday afternoon crowd. I just wish he’d shot it in black and white."
Andrew L. Urban

"Engrossing and compelling, eXistenZ is a B-movie that provokes and inspires the opinionated. Love it or hate it, this is a film about which you will certainly have defined thoughts. What David Cronenberg's film does superbly is capture a mood: claustrophobic, intense, imaginative. From the unwavering fervour of the soundtrack which solidly sets the unhurried pace, beguiling direction and performances, eXistenZ embraces the intersection of fantasy and reality. We are warned that it's a wild ride, and that it is – with larger than life characters, bizarre concepts and colourful visuals. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law deftly capture the mood without compunction. There's an impressive cameo by Willem Dafoe, and everyone is off the planet – but it's not drugs or alcohol: it's about a new mind-altering game that shatters reality, replacing it with the grotesque, the fantastic, the gross. It’s a game that breaks down boundaries, formalities, insecurities and inhibitions. And you have to play to find out the aim of the game. eXistenz doesn't aspire to be anything other than what it is; it doesn't seem to matter that the script is trite. Expect a lot of blood and gore, with explicit mutilation of animal organs; even this did not spoil my enjoyment of the film. Take a wild ride into eXistenZ – you'll never be the same again."
Louise Keller

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eXistenZ (M)

CAST: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Iam Holm, Willem Dafoe, Callum Keith Rennie, Don McKellar, Christopher Eccleston

PRODUCERS: Robert Lantos, Andras Hamori,

DIRECTOR: David Cronenberg

SCRIPT: David Cronenberg


EDITOR: Ron Sanders

MUSIC: Howard Shore


RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 11, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: March 8, 2000


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