Lapsis (Nightstream 2020)

Lapsis might not take place in the 2020 we know, but it’s certainly familiar.

After the discovery of quantum data transfer, the primary use of this becomes stock trading – people can make financial decisions at the drop of a hat. But in order to utilize this, a whole new network of quantum cabling needs to be laid out; enter, “disruptive businesses”. These businesses don’t have actual employees, but rather contract out the work on a job by job basis and funnel the money upward.

The company in Lapsis could easily be Uber, or Grubhub, or any of hundreds of apps that exist on many of our phones. But what cost do these centralizing companies come at, especially when they start monopolizing labor? How are they exploiting people? And why aren’t the labor force working in solidarity to force these companies to play fair?

These questions are all on the forefront of Lapsis’ message, as the movie takes us through a new cabler’s path through joining up as a cabler and falling into a labor revolution and strike. It’s all slightly heightened but as I said it feels very familiar, well within the realm of possibility, and creates a great sci-fi uncanniness to the setting.

The clear class-conscious message works to the movie’s benefit, being extremely well articulated and represented by the lead performances in Dean Imperial and Madeline Wise. Dean as Ray in particular is charming, with a certain “New Jersey Italian” bravado that immediately creates a blue-collar vibe to his role as he struggles to make ends meet while his brother suffers from a mysterious malady.

Writer/director Noah Hutton does a great job as well; in addition to the excellent writing, there’s a warmth to the way it’s shot that I found extremely pleasant. This movie took me by surprise but I recommend it highly. It has heart and a great eye, and seems to be more prescient by the day. You won’t want to miss this one.