Radio Free Albemuth (2014) - Rotten Tomatoes

Radio Free Albemuth (2014)

Radio Free Albemuth (2014)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Radio Free Albemuth Photos

Movie Info

From sci-fi author Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly) comes his most personal and prophetic thriller to date. It's 1985 in an alternate reality and Berkeley record store clerk Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe, Perception) begins to experience strange visions transmitted from an extra-terrestrial source he calls VALIS. He uproots his family and moves to Los Angeles where he becomes a successful music executive with a secret mission to overthrow the oppressive government led by US President Fremont (Scott Wilson - The Walking Dead). With the help of his best friend, sci-fi writer, Philip K. Dick himself (Shea Whigham - Boardwalk Empire, American Hustle) and a beautiful, mysterious woman named Silvia (Alanis Morissette - Weeds), Nick finds himself drawn into a conspiracy of cosmic, mind-shattering proportions. Although it might cost them their freedom or even their lives, they join forces to expose the dangerous truth about the corrupt regime.(C) Freestyle

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Cast

Jonathan Scarfe
as Nick Brady
Scott Wilson
as U.S. President Fremont
Shea Whigham
as Philip K. Dick
Alanis Morissette
as Silvia Aramchek
Hanna Hall
as Vivian Kaplan
Rosemary Harris
as Valis (Light Angel)
Ashley Greene
as Rhonda (Delivery Girl)
John Prosky
as Dr. Goldfarb
Jon Tenney
as FBI Agent #1
Rich Sommer
as FBI Agent #2
Frank Collison
as Leon (Prisoner)
Michael Rothhaar
as Herb (Record Store Owner)
Joel McKinnon Miller
as Berkeley Detective
Julie Warner
as Newscaster #1
Bruce Hensel
as Newscaster #2
Carol Avery
as Jan (Secretary)
Kelly Hare
as Fremont Tour Guide
Hugh B. Holub
as Oral Surgeon
Richard Cox
as Dr. Weinberg (Surgeon)
Angela McEwan
as Mrs. Aramchek
Kevin McCorkle
as News Anchor
Joseph D. Reitman
as Prisoner #1
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Critic Reviews for Radio Free Albemuth

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (5)

Modestly budgeted but professional, this film has some imaginative visuals and a strong cast.

December 4, 2014 | Full Review…

Simon hews closely to his source. That decision is likely to endear him to Dick fans.

December 4, 2014 | Full Review…

A quaint labor of love blinkered by fidelity to an outdated text.

June 26, 2014 | Full Review…

It's easy to glean why this unapologetically niche film nearly died on the vine.

June 24, 2014 | Full Review…

The pic operates successfully as a study of enlightenment and a straight-ahead conspiracy thriller.

August 3, 2011 | Full Review…

Flavorless ordinariness.

July 8, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Radio Free Albemuth

½

Insanely bizarre, Radio Free Albemuth is a sci-fi thriller based on a Philip K. Dick novel. The story follows a music producer who believes that he's receiving visions from an omnipotent entity which he calls VALIS; meanwhile America rapidly transforms into a fascist state that cracks down on subversives. The plot goes to some unbelievably strange places with aliens and alternative dimensions. And, the script doesn't do anything to make it seem any less weird than it sounds. Additionally, the acting and production values are incredibly bad, and do a poor job of bringing any believability to this mess. Yet there's something innately fascinating about the story and how it goes to new levels of crazy as it progresses. Though it's pretty far-out, Radio Free Albemuth provides a thought-provoking exploration of timely philosophical and political issues.

Dann Michalski
Dann Michalski

Super Reviewer

In an alternate-reality America, a music producer receives transmissions from a mysterious entity known as VALIS ("Vast Active Living Intelligence System") with advice for overthrowing the fascist President of the United States. This adaptation of Philip K. Dick's paranoid sci-fi novel sat on the shelf for four years. It has TV miniseries-level production values, but the bizarre plot retains some interest. Knowledge of Dick's backstory (he really believed in VALIS) is helpful.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

"Radio Free Albermuth," is the latest adaptation of one of lauded science fiction author Philip K. Dick's novels. With its unhurried pace and philosophical tone, it's closer to Richard Linklater's "A Scanner Darkly" than Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" on the spectrum of Dick adaptations. Even more than Linklater's film, "RFA" is fascinated with Dick's views on about culture, religion and paranoia. When it works, it's shows off how timeless Dick's culture insights are and at worst it plays like a '90s Scientology infomercial. Set in alternate 1985 where a fascist President has turned America into surveillance state, record company executive Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) starts receiving transmissions from extraterrestrial consciousness called VALIS, which frightens his wife Rachel (Kathryn Winnick) and intrigues his friend, science fiction author Philip K. Dick (Shea Whigham). Like David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis," "Radio Free Albermuth" is an obvious literary adaptation. The film is extremely faithful to its source material, to the point where large sections of its 110 minute running time feel like a live reading of Dick's novel. The plot, while having the basic outline of a conspiracy thriller, is languorously paced and the characters have many long, context-less conversations that only exist for the audience to consider the ideas under discussion. It's a risky approach and unfortunately writer/director John Alan Simon doesn't have the chops to make the stylistic gambit work. If Simon had condensed Nick and Philip's seemingly endless philosophical exchanges or pared back Nick endless wanderings through atrociously rendered CG landscapes, the film might have had some narrative thrust. Alternately, had those same scenes been interestingly framed, intriguingly scored, rhythmically edited or competently acted, "Radio Free Albermuth" would still have felt off but there would've been interesting enough to offset the staginess. Another of the film's serious problems is that Shea Whigham's keenly observant and darkly funny Philip Dick isn't the focus of the film. Whigham, so dazzling in "True Detective" as the magnetic Reverend Theriot, observes all the strange happening in his life like a warily war reporter. Whigham's protrayal of Dick, gives the film a kind ragged verisimilitude. But whenever the focus inevitably shifts back to Scarfe's Nick, the whole falls apart. Scarfe, who is high school play bad, never sells Nick's transformation from sarcastic record store employee to celestial martyr. Since that tentative, painful embrace of the miraculous is the heart of "Radio Free Albermuth," its cinematic incarnation is emotionally vacuous. Ultimately, that lack of feeling is what dooms "Radio Free Albermuth." There is just no way to emotionally invest in something so inert. Although many of Dick's ideas about Gnosticism, alien life and the American condition make to the screen intact whereas a typical Hollywood movie would remove those ideas structure itself around the thriller elements, they were underserved by this film. It's difficult to imagine that anyone who might be attracted to Dick's ideas wouldn't be better served by reading his books rather than watching this abysmal adaptation of his book.

Mario L McKellop
Mario L McKellop

Super Reviewer

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