“Inspired by David Bowie”. What if your boyfriend just disappeared on the day David Bowie died? Liz Manashil directs Speed of Life, gently pondering on lost relationships and self-awareness in a strange and almost recognisable near future.
David Bowie died on 10 January 2016. In the 11 months which followed, Britain voted to leave the EU; Donald Trump was elected president of the United States; British Member of Parliament Jo Cox was assassinated in the street while campaigning in her own constituency. There were terrorist attacks in Nice, Berlin, Istanbul and Brussels. An attempted military coup in Turkey. A gunman opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Florida killing 49 people. These are just a few of the more notable events which happened in 2016. There were those at the time who suggested that the universe wasn’t ready to lose David Bowie, and that his death had caused a rift in the fabric of life through which evil things were spilling.
Risible as that may sound, Speed of Life riffs a little off this idea. June (Allison Tolman) and boyfriend Edward (Ray Santiago) are arguing about their relationship shortly after she has read about Bowie’s death – when Edward just disappears mid-debate, having fallen through some kind of breach in the space/time continuum.
We re-join June 24 years later (now played by Ann Dowd) in a world where everyone is gently monitored into being healthy and is being constantly surveilled, and where anyone over the age of 60 is made to move into a care home. A few days away from her 60th birthday, June begins to reflect on her life, and finds out that she might have the opportunity to make some changes.
Bowie is only the jump-off point for the premise of the story; it’s really nothing to do with him at all. The notions of what the near future might look like provide a really interesting concept, and the performances of Dowd, Santiago and Tolman are strong. There is a side story featuring a younger couple which felt like it didn’t quite fit with the main narrative, and it’s fair to say that when you start messing with the timey wimey stuff then plot holes are sure to appear more quickly than you can say TVC15.
Speed of Life is not an epic sci-fi blockbuster, but it’s still an enjoyable way to spend 76 minutes wondering about whatever happened to your old boyfriend, or whether there will be certain parts of the world that will be uninhabitable in 25 years’ time.