William directed by Tim Disney
William directed by Tim Disney

William, an interesting indie sci fi film directed by Tim Disney, follows star academics, Doctors Julian Reed and Barbara Sullivan, who fall in love with each other and with the idea of cloning a Neanderthal from ancient DNA. The film starring Will Brittain, Waleed Zuaiter, Maria Dizzia, and Beth Grant opens in theaters on Friday, April 12.

Doctors Julian Reed (WALEED ZUAITER) and Barbara Sullivan (MARIA DIZZIA) are rising stars in their respective fields at elite Wallace University when they fall in love with each other–and with their mutual passion for the idea of cloning a Neanderthal. Their plan: to extract DNA from the world’s only non-fossilized Neanderthal remains, which were discovered by Reed’s boss and mentor, Dr. Godwin Thomas (BETH GRANT), and stored on the Wallace campus. Thomas named this Neanderthal “William” after William King, the Irish naturalist who, in 1864, first recognized Neanderthals as a separate species.

Against the express directive of Wallace President Bob Clayborn (PAUL GUILFOYLE) and the misgivings of some in the scientific community, Sullivan and Reed follow through on their audacious idea. Sullivan boldly decides to carry the embryo and the result is William: the first Neanderthal to walk the earth for some 35,000 years.

William proves a sweet, strong and happy child and develops rapidly. But the now-married Sullivan and Reed, who have become an academic power duo, soon argue over how to raise the boy. Reed believes William should continue to be monitored and researched while Sullivan’s maternal instincts overtake her scientific needs: She wants William to lead the life of a normal child, free from excess scrutiny. But is it possible?

The couple divorces and Sullivan takes William, now five, out of his laboratory “home” to start a new life as a single motheron Washington State’s remote Quiggan Island. Over time, William finds some measure of acceptance in the funky island community, but only up to a point. Even here his distinctive physical features, his powerful build and his unique way of thinking – his “otherness”–set him apart and can provoke fear in the less tolerant. When school bullies taunt him with calls of “caveman,” the usually kind William responds with a defensive show of strength that ends the harassment.

Once in high school, however, William (WILL BRITTAIN) finds himself with a pair of good-natured pals (FINN HANEY, KEVIN DZAH) as well as a romantic attraction to Judy (MORGAN TAYLOR CAMPBELL), his pretty co-star in the school musical, though William’s interest goes unreturned.

After high school graduation Sullivan wants William to remain in the relative safety of Quiggan Island. But Reed is adamant that William enroll at Wallace University to study and to participate once again in his research. William complies with his dad’s wishes and moves into his house near the University. There he forms a bond with Reed’s gentle, much younger, live-in girlfriend Sarah (SUSAN PARK), a tutor who’s also working toward her PhD. However, Sarah’s discontent with the driven, judgmental Reed brings her even closer to William.

But in the end the tension between Reed’s high expectations and William’s own emerging sense of identity explodes into open conflict. William accepts that there is no place for him in this world, but he leaves behind a surprising legacy.

“Wiliam” is a stirring, heartfelt, provocative and inventive look at nature, nurture and the limits and vastness of scientific possibility.

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