It is dumbfounding to me, to be living in the XXI Century. I can cope with Gen Z vocabulary. I have adapted to learn what TikTok is. But I have yet to figure out why it is so rare to have a woman be part of the creative process behind a film which focuses on issues such as pregnancy. Alas, things have not changed much since 1968. Or have they? False Positive is here, and make no mistake: you may think you know the story. But really, you probably don’t.
As you watch False Positive, you cannot help but realize there is something different about it. Sure, there’s a slight arthouse feel to it. But that’s not it. Neither is it the stellar performances by great actors such as Ilana Glazer, Justin Theroux and Pierce Brosnan. But we’re getting warmer. You see, acting wasn’t the only role Glazer fulfilled in the making of this film.
False Positive has the sadly rare distinction of telling a woman’s story, which is co-written and produced by a woman. And this permeates nearly every part of the film. If I had to choose a word to describe its effect, it would be nuance. While this may come off as strange, given how balls-to-the-wall (pun intended) the movie gets sometimes, hear me out.
The devil is in the detail, yes? Well, so is accuracy. False Positive‘s attention to detail in its portrayal of womanhood’s struggle differentiates it from its peers. A mentor of mine once told me: “sometimes, it’s hard to know when something is off, when it’s wrong. But you’ll know instantly when it’s right”. There is so much authenticity in not only Lucy, but the rest of the women in the film, one cannot help but wonder why, so often, we are presented with cookie-cutter versions of women in film instead. It’s as if someone had described women through the telephone, over a line with a lot of interference. And then, in comes False Positive, in glorious, crisp and clear 5G.
Even moving beyond this, the movie does not cease to surprise and delight. As I mentioned before, the performances are stellar. My surprise at John Lee’s deftness as a director in handling horror, despite his mostly comedic background, would set the stage for everything. As I mentioned, Ilana Glazer’s Lucy is, in my eyes, a most painfully real portrayal of a woman unheard, sidelined and ignored. Justin Theroux, who for over 20 years has entertained us and terrified us in equal measure, balances his roles as a caring husband and something altogether more sinister with the same ease with which Messi handles a football. That is to say, very much capably, indeed.
And once again, I must draw my attention to Pierce Brosnan. About half a century ago, he received a telegram from none other than Tennessee Williams, appreciating and praising his performance. Brosnan, from 007 to Thomas Crown to Volcano and beyond, has never stopped. He’s never phoned it in. And in False Positive, he is as suave as he is devilish. Truly, one of the greats of our times.
In terms of presentation, Hulu’s latest falls somewhere between Dario Argento and Darren Aronofsky. And I mean both of those things as the highest of compliments. There is a distinct arthouse feel, as I mentioned, but not in a way that makes you feel stupid when your mind wanders. Rather, it makes the wandering accessible enough to make you think it was your idea all along. As if that’s the way you would do it, if you had the chance. And only you know this, because you are in sync with the film. Visually engrossing and aurally enthralling, False Positive‘s presentation is the bow on top of quite a delicious cake. A cake full of neurosis, struggles and authenticity. You know, the best kind.
I used to feel guilt when talking about movies such as False Positive. In the past, I’ve felt as if my opinion as a man should be not only heard second, but perhaps third, fourth, or not heard at all. But I also understand the powerful impact of acknowledging, in whatever platform may be available to me, the absolute necessity of having more films like this, be appreciated by as many people as possible. And therefore, that is what I am here to do, because I love this film. It’s great.
As sure as I am that I love False Positive, though, it’s undeniably not for everyone. Some will simply not like the roundabout way in which it delivers its message, or its open-ended finale. And that’s OK. I fear many will also fail to appreciate the nuance which shifts the narrative in a way that is representative, rather than demeaning or outright cartoonish.
If you are, however, part of an audience that would like to experience a technically impressive film which tells a familiar story with unfamiliar accuracy, nuance and beauty, then False Positive is the film for you. Just don’t expect it to be an overly comfortable experience.
If you’d like to experience a technically impressive film which tells a familiar story with unfamiliar accuracy, nuance and beauty, then False Positive is the film for you.