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[review]: Tropic (2023)

Updated: Mar 11

Directed by Edouard Salier, sci-fi drama Tropic explores the detrimental effects of a society that places a precedence over extreme human achievement and excellence. Set in the near future in France, Tropic centers on twin brothers Tristan and Làzaro Guerrero who are in an intensive training course in order to become astronauts. 

Whilst Tristan is a star pupil, an incredible athlete and has a beautiful girlfriend, Lazaro finds himself on the sidelines to his brother’s success, until one night whilst swimming in a nearby body of water, Tristan is infected by a neon green extra-terrestrial residue that falls from outer space which leaves him disfigured and disabled. Struggling to come to terms with his brother’s condition, Lazaro pushes his body to the limits in order to achieve that which was taken away from Tristan. 

With the topic of French colonization as a thematic backdrop, Tropic explores the disposable nature of the worker humans and their bodies to the higher authorities that exist in corporations, governments and the like. When one worker ant is considered useless, another one will soon take its place, demonstrated in the narrative of Tristan and his brother Lazaro. As soon as Tristan is unable to continue his ascent to top student due to his disability, he is disposed of by the training school as well as his girlfriend, but Lazaro is there to step out of the shadows and become a replacement by pushing his body to the extreme, unconcerned with the detriments his actions could impose on both himself and his family. 

Tropic is a unique portrayal of the horrors of capitalism, yet at times fails at keeping the pace as well as falls into disabled trope territory especially towards the final sequence. The horror and sci-fi genre both have a terrible tradition of equating disability and disfigurement with monstrosity, and unfortunately Tropic is no different. Whilst an argument can be made that the ephemeral nature of the working person under a capitalist regime caused Tristan to act out in violence, the film’s ending feels too flimsy to make that connection and rather just ends up with the stereotypical portrayal of disability instead. It does, however, sensitively explore how a sudden disability can affect family members and doesn’t stray from the uncomfortable feelings of guilt and burden felt by many carers and relatives.

Tropic is an emotional and poignant examination of two brothers’ experience of disability and although it at times feels clumsy in its handling of the topic at hand, it is still an interesting depiction of that experience under a capitalist authority that treats people like disposable objects.

Tropic is on digital platforms from 4th March

3 out of 5 Screams.


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