Lapsis (2020) is a new film from writer and director Noah Hutton and a part of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival. Hutton utilizes the sci-fi genre to comment on the world of the gig worker. In the film, Ray Tincelli (Dean Imperial) is in need of some money to help pay for medical treatment for his younger brother, Jamie (Babe Howard). His attempts at a few jobs turn out poorly, leading him to take a job as a CBLR runner – which entails him dragging spools of cable across miles of terrain. At first, the job is only challenging because of his lack of physicality – but as he meets other runners and gets deeper into the territory, he is faced with bigger and bigger struggles.
Imperial deserves a lot of credit for how well this film works. It appears to be his first feature film, which is always a challenge – and even more so if you’re the lead. Imperial makes Ray extremely likable in his fish-out-of-water role. Ray is just trying to get by, and is finding himself the target of some of the other cable runners’ ire. He cares so very much for his brother – but even that element of his life leaves him clueless, as he has to take the word of doctors who seem to be more interested in making money than truly curing Jamie.
Ray meets Anna (Madeline Wise) during his time on the trails. Wise is exceptional in the film. There is a surreal quality to her character, but she has a natural leadership quality that emanates. This quality is vital to Anna’s role in the story. Once Ray and Anna meet, the movie becomes really interesting, as their connection helps drive the mystery aspect of the story.
The parallels of the world in Lapsis to our own is extremely compelling. The “Quantum” internet is a centerpiece of the world in the film, and it is why Ray is running cable. None of the old internet is any good anymore, and the world has changed dramatically. The gig worker economy is obviously booming in our time, whether it be Uber, Instacart, or anything of the sort. Big debates that are going on in the world about these companies and their employees are at the heart of the film and its characters; it is definitely worth exploring.
Lapsis is certainly a compelling film that is both engaging to watch, and thought-provoking. It is a solid example of what sci-fi is capable of doing when executed correctly. While not all of the elements worked for me, I can’t deny that I enjoyed watching it, and that it has stayed on my mind since it ended. Lapsis earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.