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by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Apr 23, 2013

Movies about the thorny issue of human cloning tend to approach the subject as a matter of identity (nature prevailing over nurture, as in "The Boys from Brazil") or else take on the issue of ownership and legal status.

"The Island" and "Never Let Me Go" both started from the premise of clones as property, generated for spare parts to extend the lives of their owners. Jorge Ameer's odd, only incidentally sci-fi feature "D'Agostino" follows both tracks, but in a different way.

When Allan (Keith Roenke), a businessman dissatisfied with work and life, inherits a house in Santorini, Greece, his first impulse is to sell the place off and use the money to pay for another attempt at fertility treatment with his longtime girlfriend, Sylvia (Torie Tyson). But when he discovers a naked, muddy man living on the property, things change. It turns out that the man -- feral, pre-verbal, instinctive -- is a human clone, created for medical purposes and then lost at sea during shipment. The clone's dog tag identifies him with the name D'Agostino.

Allan, fascinated by his find, adopts D'Agostino, but not as a son or little brother to educate and nurture. Instead, Allan treats D'Agostino like a dog, feeding him from a plastic bowl and giving him sharp one-word commands. As days pass and his fascination grows, Allan starts to treat D'Agostino as a sex slave. It's as though D'Agostino's lack of identity has thrown Allan's own sense of himself into question, and the power that comes with ownership (finders are keepers, after all) transforms and, perhaps, corrupts Allan.

All well and good, until this strange story gets stranger with a sudden, inexplicable transformation that hints at another level of identity shift -- but this late-breaking idea, while intriguing, belongs in a different, more futuristic movie. The final scene, an unholy and outrageous blend of horror and sexual domination, belongs in a different genre of movie altogether.

"D'Agostino" races wildly off the beaten path, and it mostly works in spite of its flaws. The cinematography by Zach Voytas makes good use of the location (though the streets are eerily deserted). What doesn't work well is the soundtrack, which is often dim and sometimes hopelessly garbled. Even so, the story and scenery keep you watching: This is a good rental for fans of late-night chill-and-thrill fare with a little sexy zest thrown in.

This DVD release includes no bonus features.

DVD Release

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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