Sci-Fi London Film Festival: Sublimate – Review

Sublimate is the inspired story of Roger Armstrong, a drug addled techno producers who has dreamed of success his entire life, and is always striving for the best with his music. While being filmed for a documentary, Roger and alcoholic best mate John develop a machine that removes human consciousness from the body. They go to daring and terrifying new heights, as power gets the better of Roger in this darkly comic and insanely interesting film.

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Of all the things to admire about this film, the decision to film it in a documentary style is by far the most deserving. This is a plot that could’ve easily been done as a standard narrative structure; I’m sure it still would’ve been a pretty good, but it would’ve been superficial. By doing this in documentary style, it puts us on ground level with Roger. We’re a fly on the wall to his insane scheme, and get to know him in a way that’s absolutely essential for this film to work. The film just wouldn’t have been anywhere near as interesting or entertaining as a conventional story. It would’ve lost a lot of intrigue, and could have even made it a little formulaic. A plot like this deserves something a bit more unconventional, and this was a truly fantastic way of using the documentary format. especially since, if done wrong, it could’ve easily ended up like the load of mediocre found footage sci-fi/horror films we already have, a pile that most certainly doesn’t need adding to. No, using this format was a genius move, and ultimately why the film is worth watching.

As for the writing, that’s also pretty solid. Admittedly, a lot of the jokes don’t hit, but it’s easy to forgive as there’s clearly effort put into them. There’s no cheap or lazy gags thrown into this film; every joke feels natural (Which also contributes to the effectiveness of the documentary format) and the deliveries are perfect. The film goes to really interesting places that deserve so much praise for it’s originality, The performances are great as well; Roger Armstrong is playing himself. Whether the real Roger Armstrong is actually a drug addicted musician who breaks the boundaries of science, I have no clue, but I could totally believe that he is. He sinks into the role perfectly, as does John Hickman as his best friend, and Alastair Cummings as the filmmaker forced to capture these horrific events.

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As far as flaws, I don’t see this film being easy to revisit. It seems like a one time experience that you’re really impressed with, however, you’ll have no desire to watch it again. Of course I could be wrong, but it’ll be a long time before I feel like experiencing this once more.

Questionable watchability aside, Sublimate is an intriguing and brilliantly executed little Sci-Fi film that definitely deserves attention. So many great decisions made, and a lot of care put into it, that prove that Roger Armstrong is an up and coming filmmaker to keep your eye on.

Sci-Fi London Film Festival Screens is playing now. 
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