SXSW Film Review: 'The Immortalists'

Meet two of our generation's would-be fountains of youth

Every era of history produces its own fantasies of an elixir to cure the “disease” of old age. Our generation’s would-be fountains of youth can be found on the fringes of biology, where vainglorious researchers compete for investors in their far-fetched schemes.


The Immortalists follows two such anti-aging impresarios. Their science is not particularly reputable (in the course of the film, one loses funding for his lab and the other leaves academia to start a research fiefdom with his own inheritance), but they are fun to watch. Dr. William H. Andrews, a recognizable American huckster type, is peer-reviewed as a “snake oil salesman.” Initially more likable, the bearded, beer-swilling Dr. Aubrey de Grey enjoys naked romps in the woods with his sexagenarian wife. By the end of the film, however, de Grey too seems more a product of tech-bubble hype than a genuine scientist with the humility to accept his own limitations.

Both men are gregarious, off-kilter personalities who are pleasant enough to spend two hours with, though Andrews’ desperation – and mortality – shows in the final hour. But he never gives up. As audiences left the SXSW screening, they were met by a product rep for Andrews’ herbal anti-aging pills.


The Immortalists


Documentary Competition, World Premiere
Saturday, March 15, 11am, Topfer

READ MORE
More South by Southwest
SXSW Expands SouthBites Programming
SXSW Expands SouthBites Programming
David Chang announced as featured speaker

Brandon Watson, Sept. 30, 2014

Two More Acquisitions for SXSW Alumni
Two More Acquisitions for SXSW Alumni
'Honeymoon' and 'Thank You a Lot' picked up

Monica Riese, March 28, 2014

More SXSW
SXSW Film Adds Midnighters and More
SXSW Film Adds Midnighters and More
Horror lineup announced, plus shorts and more

Richard Whittaker, Feb. 9, 2016

SXSWedu Putting Education in Innovation
SXSWedu
Education conference announces keynote from littleBits founder

Richard Whittaker, Jan. 13, 2016

More by Michael Agresta
Cowboys and Indies
Cowboys and Indies
Texas Sundance roundup

Feb. 5, 2016

Labors of Love (and Money)
Labors of Love (and Money)
Film production services melting pot Arts+Labor eyes a commercial expansion

Oct. 23, 2015

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

South by Southwest, SXSW, SXSW 2014, SXSW Film 2014, The Immortalists, review, aging, biology

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, SXSW Daily Edition

Our latest from SXSW 2016, delivered March 11-20

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways