In a not-so-distant dystopian future, Tom Gatley’s Expiry takes us to a world where the government set time limits on failing marriages, but can they control our hearts?
Expiry is a morality tale following the lives of a married couple Jamie and Sofia. They live in a world where the government legally regulates happy marriages. Upon Jamie and Sofia’s nuptials, they were equipped with magnetic bracelets and as long as they produced children, they could stay a happy couple.
Of course, there can’t. Sofia is unable to get pregnant (I’m sure the stress isn’t helping), and their time as a couple has now expired. Now their magnetic marriage bands are activated, and the two are unable to come into physical contact. Now to complicate the plot further, Sofia is a resident alien and is in fear of deportation.
Now Jamie and Sofia are in the fight of their lives in hopes of staying together. The greater stress is on Sofia as she is a resident alien and her marriage to Jamie is the reason she can stay in the country. She is now being harassed both at work and in public, now that she’s “on the market” once again. She’s also a little paranoid, wondering just when the men in the white van are going to deport her. Soon, allies reach out to Sofia, and she now knows she’s not alone in her struggle.
“…they were equipped with magnetic bracelets and as long as they produced children, they could stay a happy couple.”
Expiry presents an interesting idea about human relationships. The story is set in a world where bureaucrats control marriage. I suppose no one likes divorce, so the government is there to save the day. While the government can control your behavior, it can’t control your feelings. Jamie and Sofia love one another, and it’s the false assumption that children are the only evidence of that love. But thanks to Big Brother, their love is placed in doubt and tested.
As a film, Expiry has problems with competing conflicts and a substantial problem with its main plotline. First, I just never got the sense of why marriage and relationships are so heavily regulated in the first place. It’s hard to accept this significant plot point without a compelling reason why it exists at all. The Handmaid’s Tale is a good example of connecting the dots about why the world is in an extreme situation. Not so much with Expiry as the problem simply exists and we accept it from the start.
The best part of the film is Jamie and Sofia’s perilous relationship. The film does an excellent job placing undue amounts of external stress on their marriage and makes their fight to survive feel authentic. I also thought the social pressure that Sofia faces, along with the ramifications of her dissolved marriage, was played out well with sound logic. But this excellent story is weakened by the deportation subplot and their involvement in the resistance, which turns it into a Logan’s Run-inspired third act.
I wish the film steadfastly focused on the theme of love between our two protagonists as well as focus its Big Brother conspiracy to attack this one theme. I think, in the end, it would have had an even more powerful message.
"…does an excellent job placing undue amounts of external stress on their marriage..."