Writer / director Noah Hutton has described his socially progressive film “Lapsis” as “blue collar sci-fi,” and I can’t think of a more fitting interpretation. The story of delivery man Ray (Dean Imperial) struggling to support himself and his sick younger brother (Babe Howard) by taking on a gig economy job makes a strong political statement about how multi-billion dollar corporations are built on the backs of the working class. It isn’t a perfect film, but it certainly is interesting.
Ray begins working a strange, physically demanding job where he must hike deep into the forest (with few breaks), pulling heavy cables over miles of rugged terrain. He’s laying the groundwork to help power the new quantum trading market, an advanced technology which has muscled its way into the daily lives of most citizens. As Ray takes one gig, he must act quickly to accept another so he can raise enough money to pay for his brother’s outrageously priced medical treatment.
Working against the threat of robotic machines who can do his job faster (and thus eliminate his payday), Ray learns from a fellow laborer named Anna (Madeline Wise) that the company has been clamping down on them for years. Anna asks for him to band together with the cablers to help everyone get paid their fair wages.
The ambitious screenplay has a political angle about the day-to-day struggles between wealthy companies and the working class, with themes exploring how corporate greed manipulates and exploits independent contractors. It’s a story ripped from the headlines, as large businesses are sometimes known to regularly abuse their workers with poor labor practices and unfair policies. The film touches on other social justice themes like healthcare scams, the skyrocketing cost of medical care, and the benefits of a workforce standing together and unionizing, and it’s far from subtle about it.
The film is slow at first, with a too-relaxed setup as Hutton tries to build audience curiosity with a mysterious plot that offers few clues as to what’s going on. It doesn’t work well, but the movie fills out its interesting story as it progresses. It’s a shame that “Lapsis” begins and ends on such a disappointing note, because the material sandwiched in-between presents the struggles of American life in a creative, interesting way.