In search of a better life for their unborn baby, desperate couple Kurt and Eve sneak over the border into the United States of Europe. Once inside the fortress nation, they are picked up by an immigration patrol and separated due to Eve’s pregnancy, so Kurt must do what he can to reunite them while conforming to the rules of this brave new world.
Index Zero’s plot is based around the Sustainability Index, a complex calculation the USE’s government applies to every individual, quantifying the monetary expenditure it takes to sustain a person balanced against how their myriad circumstances allow for maintaining themselves. Essentially, single numbers are used to rate and rank the financial worth of human lives. The concept is monstrous.
Once immigrants have worked enough to some nebulous standard, their index value will eventually rise out of the negatives (hence the film’s title), at which point they are declared eligible to become citizens of this democratic plutocracy and live the lives the system deems them worthy of. “Freedom isn’t sustainable”, an immigration officer comments.
The film opens with Kurt and Eve traversing a desolate wasteland, surviving on ground insects and rainwater, so we can only imagine what sort of despondent existence they are attempting to escape from. Like many immigrants even today, whatever bleak and miserable life awaits them once they’re over the border, it’s infinitely preferable to the hardships they left behind. The sterile uniformity of the immigrant compound provides a stark contract to the dry mud of the shanty towns they initially pass through, but you can’t help but wonder if when they eventually enter the country, they will truly be any freer.
The pan-continental setting of the futuristic superstate allows events to take place in a vague and undefined location and thus avoid passing comment on any one nation’s international policy, while also neatly explaining away the clashing accents of the international cast (although an Italian film, everyone speaks in English).
Like a lot of classic pulp sci-fi, Index Zero uses its futuristic setting to make a point about modern society, and in the wake some countries having their economic growth crippled by austerity measures while others are ending up run by sociopathic millionaires, the film’s bleak itemised vision of the future is not all that difficult to imagine coming to pass.
INFO: INDEX ZERO / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: LORENZO SPORTIELLO / SCREENPLAY: LORENZO SPORTIELLO, CLAUDIO CORBUCCI, FRANCESCO CIOCE / STARRING: SIMON MERRELLS, ANA ULARU, VELISLAV PAVLOV, ANTONIA LISKOVA / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10