Lapsis (2020)

Set in a slightly altered landscape that enjoys poking fun at corporate corruption, Noah Hutton’s Lapsis is a unique unraveling of the modern society’s reliance on technology.

Re-routing the old chestnut that getting ahead in life comes down to hard, laborious work, Hutton’s parallel present day centres around an existence-changing technology known as Quantum, a super-processor of sorts that works at an increased speed. Ironically though, advanced tech still requires human grunt work, specifically people who are prepared to lay cable meterage that essentially powers Quantum through interconnected hubs located in the midst of forestry that are so often only accessible through arduous terrain.

The latest lackey to sign up to assist with the work is blue-collar archetype Ray (Dean Imperial), who looks at the weekend-long cabling shift as a get-rich-quick option in his quest to foot the medical bills for his younger brother (Babe Howard) who’s suffering from a chronic fatigue disorder referred to – almost ominously – as “omnia”. The initial moments of Ray adapting to the line of work, seemingly being looked down upon by the more experienced cablers around him, allow Lapsis minor moments of levity as his evidently unseasoned health looks to be a hindrance in an environment that values the spry and intuitive. The disapproving looks of others soon turn to that of suspicion and distrust when Ray’s device handle reads as “Lapsis Beeftech”, a moniker he had no hand in naming himself, much to the surprise of those around him.

As we garner through Hutton’s tightly wound script, “Lapsis Beeftech” is a notorious figure amongst the cablers, and when Ray learns that using this device – or “medallion”, as they’re called – comes stockpiled with a heft of bitcoin-like currency that serves as valuable tender during this travels, what appears as a benefit through presumed mistaken identity, comes with a much more brutal understanding.

As Lapsis essentially boils down to an us vs. them mentality pertaining to the corporate world and how it treats its employees, Hutton clearly delights in taking aim at such umbrellas as Amazon and Uber. It’s satirical without being overtly humorous, and though it’s framing the type of narrative we can all relate to, he’s specifically designed a film left-of-centre; perhaps somewhat ironically to maintain a sense of non-mainstream presentation. Aside from a head-scratcher of an ending – don’t be surprised if you feel like you missed something when it comes to its abrupt, almost unfulfilled conclusion – the originality of Hutton’s idea is undeniable in its impact, and regardless of how incomplete it feels, the thematics are so brimful that you’re likely to forgive it of its sins.

Lapsis is now screening in limited release in Australian theatres.

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