A man dies in a traffic accident. In the nebulous realm of the afterlife, he gets into a conversation with someone who guides him on his way to his next incarnation.
But as they talk more, the man realizes that he is talking to no less than God himself. And God has an answer to the biggest question of life itself.
Written and directed by Ben Brand from a screenplay adapted by the short story “The Egg” by Andy Weir, this stunning short drama is less a traditional narrative than a stunning meditation on the cosmos, interconnection, and the nature of life and death itself.
The themes are weighty and philosophical, but the filmmaking is dynamic, quicksilver and constantly in motion, with a stream of striking images that are free-associative in feel but expansive in breadth and depth. A desert in Namibia, the ruins of Mosul in Iraq and the urban and natural jungles of Thailand: shot over three different continents, these images and more aim to showcase the breathtaking range of humanity, and for the most part, succeeds in evoking a sense of wonder at the panorama of human existence in all its capability for good and evil.
Layered over this montage is the voiceover of the conversation between the man and what emerges as God in all their divinity and power. What unfurls between a tender and tough-minded — and no less than an ambitious conception of life and death, and the ways that humankind is uniquely interconnected. It can be difficult for viewers to follow voiceover-heavy work, but the image-making here always pulls viewers along, and the questions and conflict emerging between man and God cohere into a majestic reveal of the cosmos beyond life and death that is breathtaking and audacious in its sweep.
The mysteries at the center of “Re-Entry” are no less than some of the greatest puzzles that humans will face, whether man or woman, rich or poor, devout or atheist or whatever identities intersect within us. And of course, there is no definitive answer. But what makes the perspective of this narrative so powerful is how it both asks us to embrace our fellow humans in a spirit of ultimate acceptance, but not by “looking beyond” difference. Instead, finding common ground is an act of love towards our fellow humans — and perhaps the most profound way of loving ourselves.