Written and directed by Tom Large
Set in a not too distant future, the UK has been struck by disease which shortens a human’s life expectancy to around 40 years. To help combat the illness that the citizens suffer, the government distributes medicines but for the wealthy few a cure is available as well as modern, clean lodgings in Arcadia – a high-rise community with lavish apartments, isolated from the sick individuals that surround them in the city of London. The poor are left to watch from the outside with their only chance of gaining entry into Arcadia through a lottery, providing residents can afford to play that is.
For one family, a cure is needed as soon as possible. Charlie’s wife is terribly sick and needs the cure urgently so when Charlie is propositioned with the chance to get his family into Arcadia and cured “within a few months”, he bites their hand off and signs up to their Guardian programme.
Six years down the line, Charlie is still working as a Guardian recruit. With his wife having tragically passed away, he now works every day for the government in order to get himself and his daughter a ticket into Arcadia. Ordered to ‘babysit’ Adam Black, Charlie does as he is told but soon begins to question the motive behind the government’s interest in this particular man. Who is Adam Black?
Sci-fi thriller ARCADIA takes on a 1984 theme to depict a future that isn’t that hard to imagine. The gap between the rich and the poor is steadily growing wider and it wouldn’t surprise me if there comes a time where those who can afford to be treated will be the ones who survive in society. In a way, we already have it now with various treatments, such as those for cancer, only available privately and so, of course, you must have stacks of cash to be able to be treated to potentially save your life. This film explores a society where that idea is so extreme that it has come to a point where ordinary, working-class folk must face death purely because they weren’t lucky enough to be born into wealth, power or with intellect.
Being a budget British movie, ARCADIA depends greatly on its dialogue and script with former Coronation Street star Marc Baylis taking the lead as Charlie. Charlie is a driven individual who’ll do anything to get his family into Arcadia. Though he loses his wife to the illness, he knows he must still fight to get their daughter cured and into the safe haven of Arcadia. He doesn’t appear to be a selfish man. He’s doing what he does for the love of his family but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a conscious. When things start turning suspicious with his assignment, he begins to question just who his target is, something which reveals answers to more than he expected.
Despite the small budget, ARCADIA does well with what its got. Whilst it’s not the most futuristic looking film, there are a few CGI effects featured, specifically for the advanced technology which has replaced TV sets with hologram screens. The rest of the setting relies on the clean, modern apartment of Charlie’s handler, Jacob who issues orders from his home at Arcadia. Most of the screen time is spent with these two characters, showcasing the different homes and lives of the two individuals – one who has the perfect, care-free life, and one who is struggling, day by day, in order to be cured.
The film suffers a little from muffled dialogue and ropey acting from certain minor actors but, as a whole, works as intended. Arcadia’s revelations are quite obvious from the beginning of the movie and won’t come as a surprise to anyone with an interest or concern with dystopian societies. The realistic possibility of this actually becoming our future though is what will really frighten viewers.