“We’re looking for someone that’s a little more… universal.”
This line — uttered by James Urbaniak’s character Fisher in Jennifer Phang and Jacqueline Kim’s new science fiction film Advantageous — hit me like a punch to the sternum.
Body transformation and body switching is a staple of science fiction, featured in movies like Face-Off, Xchange, and most recently Self/less. In most of these films, body switching is treated as a convenient plot device for wacky hijinx to ensue, typically devoid of serious consideration of race and gender politics.
In Advantageous, however, screenwriters Jennifer Phang and Jacqueline Kim (who also stars in the movie) offer a refreshing and long overdue take on the body switching concept. Informed, perhaps, by Phang and Kim’s own identities as women of colour, Advantageous focuses specifically on the ramifications of body switching technology on race, gender, and interpersonal identity. The resulting film is a deeply emotional exploration of one woman’s love for her daughter and, to my knowledge, one of the first Asian American feminist science fiction films in history.
The following post contains spoilers.