A young scientist lives the perfect life studying and searching for the greatest scientific breakthrough when the truth of his situation emerges, everything changes. This is Richard Lounello’s sci-fi fantasy LifeQuest
With LifeQuest, Richard Lounello, the director and writer of the short film, has created an enthralling, contemplative, and very moving science fiction film with an engaging script that gives us a clear story. Its power surprises by creeping up on you and, at around the 34-minute mark of this 37-minute short film, delivers an emotional gut punch that, despite being a well-worn sci-fi cliché, really hits home.
As the film opens we are introduced to Jake and Lisa, played by Leighton Samuels and Tricia Alexandro. Newly-weds moving into their new home, when we first meet them their relationship seems quite ordinary. However, as things progress, it becomes clear that the life this couple share is a little too perfect and we are given hints of an underlying sense of unease. There are nods to Total Recall all throughout the short film, as it cuts between Jake and Lisa and the offices of LifeQuest where the owner of the company Eli, played by our director Lounello, is busy looking after customers and also talking to investors about a potential sale.
What helps the film move smoothly is the editing work of Tony Grocki; he provides some seamless transitions while navigating between different timelines that never disrupt the flow of the story. These techniques allow us to forge a stronger connection with Jake as he and his young family age and grow old together. While some of the dialogue feels unnatural due to an excessive amount of exposition, it becomes easy to ignore as the film concentrates more on unraveling the mystery behind LifeQuest and what it stands for. There tends to be a lot of telling as opposed to showing throughout the short film and while more action would have benefited the film, the whole cast performs really well with the dialogue they are given.
Jim Powers’ cinematography is robust and he effectively utilizes the locations to achieve a large blockbuster feel with his big-budget-looking visuals, and the lighting strikes a balance between natural and heightened realism. Meanwhile, Alexander Arntzen’s score is very dramatic and takes us on the same emotional journey as the characters.
LifeQuest is surprisingly moving and sometimes ingenious, but one thing that stopped it from getting the full five stars was LifeQuest is one scene too long. There is an epilogue that takes place after the climax of Jakes’s story and the main problem is that it gives us more exposition and softens the emotional blow we have just experienced in the previous scene. The best place to end the film in my opinion would have been after the bright, white fade and then straight to the credits.
But nonetheless, that moment between Jake and Lisa is beautiful in its simplicity and, as the music swells to a crescendo, it easily became one of the most powerful moments I have seen this year, the delivery of the line ‘It’s Magnificent’ will stay with me for a long, long time.