It seems impossible to put forth an original idea these days. Every time I get an idea for a revolutionary invention to make all our lives easier or better, a quick Google search reveals whatever “it” is has already been created by someone else. Maybe they did it better, maybe worse, but they fact remains, they did it first. In the world of film, this concept seems more impossible, especially during a time when every other film released is a remake or rehashed idea that makes little effort to diverge from the original. This is why Life Tracker, written and directed by Joe McClean, is so special; it is a truly unique story.
Life Tracker is a dramatic foray into a sci-fi subject, but keeps the human element in play and never really feels like sci-fi. The film introduces the viewer to the central theme of the story when we immediately meet Dillon Smith (Barry Finnegan) behind the camera lens as he begins to film a documentary. His film is to be about Life Tracker Limited, a company that claims they can predict people’s biological future through their DNA. Dillon’s documentary angle quickly gains momentum as Life Tracker Limited’s business becomes more public, more widely used and more controversial.
Dillon is joined in his quest by his ambitious friend, Scott (Matt Dallas of Kyle XY) and Scott’s girlfriend, Bell (Rebecca Marshall). The friends work to uncover the truth behind Life Tracker Limited by finding some of the earliest clients of the company, and find a dark side to the technology. In the name of their documentary, the three friends decide to have their own profiles read. Once their future is revealed, the jokes stop and each one has to decide how much stoack they are willing to put in to Life Tracker Limited’s claims. We learn more about the characters insecurities and what really sits under the surface as we watch the effect that learning their own possible fates has on each of them. It plays havoc within the close knit group of friends, just as the moral debate rages in the rest of the world. Check out the trailer below.
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Life Tracker is expert storytelling. At the outset the film there is an impression of adolescent inexperience, that lends authenticity to the story as the on-screen amateur film-making crew attempts to pull everything they are experiencing in to a cohesive piece of work, toward an end they cannot imagine. As the story evolved I was pulled in to the film to such an extent that I didn’t realize the hold it had on me until I literally (really and truly, in the most physical sense) almost fell off my couch. Once everything started falling into place, Life Tracker kept me on the edge of my seat, not proverbially, but literally.
Life Tracker is shot (mostly) in first person, with different characters behind and in front of the camera at various times, along with interviews from experts and every day people being faced with the new science Life Tracker Limited has introduced. This element, along with the beginning that initially feels a little flat, may turn some off early. I would suggest to look at this as a clever way to later show the effects of life out of control. None of our day-to-day interactions with others are profound or even genuinely interesting for the most part, they are just parts of our day. These ‘real life’ moments, are what Life Tracker uses to present the contrast between life as we know it, and life as it could be upon learning one’s future. The amateurish and low key moments at the beginning of the film are what make the story relateable for the audience, especially once things begin to spin out of control. Trust that following these characters through their ho-hum existence is all part of the exceptional experience that Life Tracker has to offer.
Connection to characters is always important to me in a film, as it is for most film lovers. While I didn’t connect strongly to any of the characters in Life Tracker, I did relate to each of them in a different way. This brought me to an interesting conclusion, one that was surprising even to me. Life Tracker tells an excellent story, and my connection with the story itself was so strong that it didn’t really bother me so much that the connection to character was somewhat lacking. The story is so strong that it made me wish for a version of Life Tracker in book form so I could sit down and read it once the film ended.
Director Joe McClean was already aware of the need for original content prior to Life Tracker, as evidenced by his short, How to Make a David Lynch Film. The approach taken in the creation of Life Tracker is authentic and meaningful. The clever presentation, along with the subject matter brings to mind films like Nacho Vigalondo’s Time Crimes and Shane Carruth’s Primer. Though stylistically these works are all quite different from one another, they all hold true to their unique concept, leading with the mundane, then taking us on an unanticipated journey to conclude with the extraordinary. The story, direction, editing and the ability to offer a real world view of every day life as it is disrupted by the unknown made known carries Life Tracker to success.
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I leave you then, with this question….