“What the Bleep Do We Know?” is more a philosophical
paradox than your run-of-the-mill plot-focused film. With a
combination of science, spirituality and special effects, the
creators produce a film that questions the very basis of our sense
of the world, minus the cookie-cutter answers.
The filmmakers, William Arntz, Betsy Chasse and Mark Vicente,
have created an amalgam of a scientific documentary and a
melodrama, tinged with spirituality. It follows the story of Amanda
(Marlee Matlin, TV’s “West Wing”), a divorced
photographer who generally hates her life. She can’t find a
passion for her art, she can’t get over her ex and she
can’t stop taking anxiety pills. Each of these problems are
solved as she comes to understand the scientists’ theories on
the effects of thought, the existence of God and the addictive
quality of emotions. This transformation is enhanced by vivid
cinematography, strong color palettes and a surreal focus in
opposition to her surrounding environment.
Yet Amanda’s awkward story is a flimsy device for the
audience to understand the abstract ideas put forth by scientists.
In one instance, when explaining how the Native Americans
couldn’t see Columbus’s ships because their minds had
no concept of them, she has a dream about it, where a shaman gets
her to see the unseen. Later, she runs into a young boy, Reggie
(Robert Bailey Jr., “Dragonfly”), who asks her to play
a game of one-on-one basketball and moves into a deep philosophical
and scientific discussion about the sub-atomic world. As the
audience begins to question why this child knows so much about
complex theories, he whips out his “Dr. Quantum” comic
book, and all of the issues are put to rest.
The topics themselves, however, are thought-provoking. The idea
that objects are not really static, unchangeable entities outside
of our bodies is quite mind-blowing. But once again, the example is
shown through a forced scene with Amanda, where she misses her
train and runs across a lady in the subway giving a presentation of
Dr. Masaru Emoto’s water experiments, obviously a common
occurrence in subway stations. Later, in a wedding scene, the
scientists try to explain how emotions are addictive, a fascinating
and profound idea made light by animated dancing, singing cells
crooning out “Addicted to Love.”
Overall, the story of Amanda, meant to keep the audience from
getting lost in abstraction, ends up distracting from the
scientists’ ideas. The special effects — though
noteworty — unnecessarily lighten several points in the film.
And though the ideas put forth are fascinating, they become
tedious. The filmmakers’ attempt to make an unorthodox and
provocative film falls short of their goal.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars