Errors of the Human Body, available on SundanceNOW, is a deeply engrossing film that offers a reliable moral dilemma: Do the ends justify the means, even if the means are abhorrent? What sets this film apart, however, is that the story is told from the perspective of one of the means, wrapped up neatly within a medical drama-thriller. And as his journey unfolds, audiences will learn that the greatest error of the human body could quite possibly be human frailty.
Dr. Geoff Burton (Michael Eklund) is a geneticist who has fallen on hard times. Forced out of his university in the United States for lack of research worth publishing, Geoff uses a personal tragedy regarding his son’s rare genetic defect as a topic for renewed research. He moves to Germany to join a world-renowned research institute where he reconnects with a former colleague, Rebekka (Karoline Herfurth), who has stumbled upon a regeneration gene that has the ability to repair any physical damage to an organism. Rebekka hasn’t yet introduced the gene to mammals, but another colleague wants to take her research for himself and accelerate the testing. When Geoff discovers the conspiracy against Rebekka, he unwittingly becomes part of the research with extremely dangerous consequences.
While the overall conflict is familiar, what makes Errors of the Human Body so compelling is its plot that revolves around a discovery that seemingly can only help humanity. It makes sense to push the research farther and faster, without real regard for the scientific safeguards scientists take with new discoveries. Throwing in personal egos between competing doctors, each with sordid histories with each other, and the film creates a taut thriller that will keep viewers engaged to the end.
Excellent casting brings this solid script to life. Michael Eklund’s subtle performance as a man haunted by his past and scared of his future makes him interesting to watch throughout the film, and his 100% commitment to the role is obvious, especially when his life truly spins out of control. Tómas Lemarquis is another great choice as the ambitious Jarek. His physical appearance alone is half his performance as he unsettles viewers in every scene he’s in. What makes the entire cast work so well with the film, however, is their ability to never be caught acting. Everyone feels natural, mundane and ordinary.
The screenplay, by Shane Danielson and director Eron Sheean, deserves special kudos for creating such normal characters. There aren’t any definable “bad guys” in the film, just competing interests. These characters are all imperfect, and some are wounded in irreparable ways. Watching Geoff’s dark history play out through dreams is heartbreaking to watch. And his nightmare is one of the most realistic representations of one on film.
Errors of the Human Body is more than a film about science run amok. It highlights several truths about the human condition, both physically and mentally. The sad truth, as displayed by the characters here, is that while science can continue striving to correct human imperfection, it will never eliminate human weakness.