Judge Daniel Carlton is re-examining his dependence on anti-bacterial soap.
Kip Polyard is safe from viruses, bacteria, and every infectious agent known to man. Except one.
Body/Antibody is a nice change from the run-of-the-mill, Steve Carell-type comedies. Although the budget was probably peanuts, the filmmakers used the tools they had to create a unique film by focusing on interesting characters and creepy, dark humor. Twists in the film set it even further apart, almost making the film hard to categorize.
Facts of the Case
Kip Polyard is obsessive compulsive about cleanliness and the mere thought of a germ upon his being sends shivers up his spine. Kip showers no less than five times a day and hasn't left his sterile, rent-controlled New York apartment in more than ten months. He has orchestrated a way of life completely void of physical contact from the outside world, but things change when a cute, new neighbor named Celine catches his eye. Kip realizes he must let his guard down, if he wishes to start a relationship with his new acquaintance. Adding to Kip's stress of slowing unguarding himself is Celine's angry ex-boyfriend Andy, who has it in for Kip…for completely different reasons than we might expect.
Indie films have it rough. They seldom have dazzling effects sequences or big name actors to instantly win over the audience. Even the god-awful Six Days, Seven Nights had enough star power to rake in $164 million worldwide. That's $1 million dollars, 164 FRIGGIN' times! How can that be, you ask? Put simply, studios know who people will pay big bucks to see. Low budget films, on the other hand, don't get to play by those rules. They are required to have at least competent actors and a solid script if they intend to gain any ground, much less make a million dollars. The acting and script might be the biggest hinge on which an independent film will fail or succeed, and Body/Antibody delivers quite well in this regard. Set almost entirely in one small New York apartment building, this 98 minute feature fills the time creatively with none of the bells and whistles most of us have come to expect.
The strength of this picture lies with Robert Gomes, the actor who humorously portrays the OCD-stricken neurotic. Whether we see Kip microwaving his mail or meticulously folding his clothes, we have no question about the gravity of his condition. Kip's every nuance is played with precision, Gomes never missing a chance to throw out a quirky facial expression or mannerism relating back to the OCD, turning what could have merely been a good performance into a great one. Most of his scenes are spent with Celine (Leslie Kendall), the co-dependent neighbor who finds herself strangely attracted to a person with such serious issues. Gomes and Kendall bounce off dialogue naturally. When Celine first enters Kip's apartment, the knowledge of a new source of germs is enough to drive Kip crazy, even if he is attracted to her. After all, "It isn't personal." Kip keeps tab on everything she touches and makes certain not to make contact with those objects without proper sterilization.
Quirks aside, it only takes one dinner and some brief time together before Kip and Celine are in a relationship. At first, Celine was intrigued by his disorder, but we soon discern she is needy in general. Kip was conveniently available and—voila!—romance abounds. Eventually, Celine has a meltdown and we can understand where she's coming from. Trying to get Kip to leave the apartment for a stroll on a lovely day, he has a near nervous breakdown just trying to make the first step. This, of course, is a bitter disappointment to Celine, who wants to see him improve his way of life. Kip sees this as her trying to change him.
Body/Antibody is divided into two sections, Part One: Body, and…you guessed it…Part Two: Antibody. Part One strikes as mostly funny-odd, where Part Two turns to funny-dark. Ex-boyfriend Andy enters the picture in a big way and things take a huge turn. Twists ensue which I truly did not see coming, and the film become more unusual and interesting. While this isn't near as memorable as other dark comedies such as Rushmore or Harold and Maude, it does fall nicely into the same genre. The jokes are deadpan and the humor runs an even keel. I wasn't bored at any time and that's a compliment considering most comedies, especially those like Get Smart or Tommy Boy, make me want to slit my wrists.
Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the film's image quality is surprisingly good, considering many low budget, independent films are grainy to the point of looking bad. Body/Antibody has a small amount of grain, but is in no way distracting. Standard Dolby 2.0 Stereo works just fine for this dialogue heavy tale. For those interested, the DVD does include a few extras. We get a feature-length commentary from two of the filmmakers, two deleted scenes (also with commentary), a trailer, and some stills. Unfortunately, the soundtrack was a little too loud in the commentary mix, making the discussion slightly hard to discern at times. Not a deal killer, but certainly noticeable.
Body/Antibody is a pleasant little film, and those who enjoy dark comedies may get a kick out of it. The performance of Robert Gomes was the highlight, and a few twists midway through kept me interested. Adding this to your list of films to see will most assuredly provide something unexpected.
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