After spending a good chunk of the holiday weekend patriotically binge-watching The West Wing, I wanted to cleanse my streaming palate with another genre. Suffice it to say that Advantageous didn’t just cleanse my palate. It grabbed my palate with both hands and power-washed it, in the best way possible.
I wasn’t entirely sure how to write a plot synopsis, because the film is about so many different things. It’s about a mother (Gwen) wanting to do what’s best for her daughter. It’s about the intricacies of relationships within families. It’s about the pressure put on women to possess an ideal balance of intelligence and beauty. It’s about finding your place in the world. It’s about the automation of the workforce. And more and more and more.
Advantageous is simultaneously straightforward and complex. It strikes me as a sort of dystopian feminist David Mamet play, in that most of the scenes take place in single rooms as contained conversations between two or three people. These conversations are intimate, heavy with mood and yet nuanced enough that the weight is applied in layers. You feel all the frustration, all the agony, and all of the love as well.
It’s worth adding that Advantageous also carries the mood over into the visuals. Soft pastels, muted light, large swaths of cold metallic accents, lingering shots on Gwen’s face as she looks at her daughter. It’s clear that this is set in the future, but mixed in with all the technology there are still touches of now.
This isn’t an action flick and yet I was still on the edge of my seat, genuinely riveted by the twists and turns. I was also emotionally exhausted by the end of the film, which to me is the mark of a story well told. Advantageous is currently available to stream on Netflix, and I would absolutely suggest that you do so.