Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Hope Frozen’

Hot Docs 2019: Our Review of ‘Hope Frozen’

Death is inescapable, but this documentary shows, specifically, how a Thai family tries to cheat it. Its patriarch tells a story of when he was a little boy. Of how he temporarily had to freeze his goldfish to keep them alive. A higher stakes version of that involves the sudden death of his two year old daughter Einz, which follows his decision to hire an American company to cryogenically freeze her, a decision sparking controversy.

This movie then follows that family holding on to a daughter in limbo between life and death. One member rises above this family. His name is Matrix, who always wished for a younger sister only for a disease to take her away. Director Pailin Wedel films this family with a subjective distance. Mark Dobbin and Mark Oltmann’s cinematography helps in this regard. We often see the family in mourning white, visually representing order and rationality.

A story that’s both about scientific development and the loss of a child should doesn’t seem overloaded. Unfortunately, Wedel doesn’t make either topic jump out. The film also tries to embody both themes through Matrix, who eventually grows up while Einz, theoretically, stays two forever. His talking head scenes, where he speaks in English, is interesting and shows his smarts. But there are conversations he has with other young cryogenic scientists that come off as awkward.

There is one more topic here that’s related to death. Thailand is a country where most of the citizens are Buddhists, and they have a different understanding of death as a concept. The family are both scientists and Buddhists, and one of their struggles is about how they handle seemingly opposing ways of thinking. It’s too bad that we get more of the science and less of the religion, the latter being misrepresented.

  • Release Date: 4/27/2019
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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