Film Review Rubikon

Reviewer: Dave Cunningham

Writer: Magdalena Lauritsch and Jessica Lind with Elisabeth Schmied as story consultant

Director: Magdalena Lauritsch

“Crossing the Rubicon” is taken as meaning reaching a point of no return. To name a space station Rubikon seems, therefore, to be tempting fate.

In 2056 the earth is so polluted even the corporate elite are facing a grim future. Soldier Hannah Wagner (Julia Franz Richter) escorts George Blagden (Gavin Abbott), who has turned his back on his family’s fortune, to the space station Rubikon. Hannah has a secret mission – to steal an organic system developed by Dr Dimitri Krylow (Mark Ivanir) which is rumoured to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. However, when a sudden ecological disaster devastates the earth and kills most of the station’s crew the three survivors must consider living out their lives in relative safety or risking everything to ensure the survival of the human race on earth.

Rubikon is marketed as a morality play with emphasis placed on the ethical choices faced by the characters. Yet the authors shy away from in-depth debate preferring to sketch out generic arguments. George takes the principled stance that helping others is the right, simply the only, option while Dr Krylow points out the practical risks involved. There is no debate or effort to persuade the other party to change their opinion – the arguments are simply made and left hanging without drawing to a conclusion.

Rather than use the restricted space in the station to generate a pressure cooker claustrophobic atmosphere in which emotions and tensions run high director Magdalena Lauritsch sets a contemplative mood. The film is full of lingering shots of the majesty of space along with space walks which add little to the plot and are not very dramatic. The approach facilitates the discussions while avoiding the film slipping into a static talky production that could be played out on stage. However, the languid mood makes it hard to be sure how much time has passed and prevents a sense of urgency from developing.

The characters are low-key even flat. There is no sign of professional pride from Dr Krylow who has, after all, developed a potentially world-saving organic system. No reason is given why George rejected his privileged lifestyle, and his suicidal tendencies are not explained. Hannah Wagner, who, as a soldier, could offer the standard excuse of simply following orders, is the most rounded character facing the emotional consequences of her actions yet her sudden sexual relationship with George feels more like a plot device than convincing passion.

The director’s leisurely approach limits the emotional impact of what ought to be a devastating suggestion the inability to forgive can override compassion and result in a twisted decision. Whilst the conclusion offers a more hopeful future it is hardly credible based upon what has gone before.

Although Rubikon sets up an interesting premise the film does not commit to exploring the implications in the depth required to engage the attention of the audience.

Signature Entertainment presents Rubikon on Digital Platforms and DVD on 11 July.

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The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

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