In an alternate 2008, a mysterious company performs contract killings by having their agents possess the bodies of unwilling third parties.
Andrea Riseborough plays Tasya Vos, the company’s premier agent. Inhabiting so many other bodies has frayed her own sense of self. In a brilliant early scene, she rehearses her own personality before returning home to her estranged family. She struggles to stay present. Riseborough’s performance conveys a sense of perpetual detachment. On her first night home, she sneaks downstairs to phone work and volunteer for another assignment. She’s chosen for a high-profile contract to possess the body of a young man played by Christopher Abbott. Things go wrong.
Writer/director Brandon Cronenberg inherits his father’s clinical detachment but tempers it with a more formal visual style. At its best, it communicates a visceral sense of dissonance, such as the scene where Vos—while possessing Abbott’s character—has sex with his fiancée. Cronenberg cuts between Abbott and Riseborough in a dreamlike montage that culminates in Riseborough gazing down at her own naked body and seeing male genitalia.
But the overall product could be tighter. The script proffers an early countdown for how long Vos can remain outside her own body before brain damage occurs, but this would seem to be a soft limit. That said, I appreciate how Cronenberg tries to balance dramatic tension with temporal detachment even if he’s not always successful.