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An Orison of Sonmi~451 (2144)

    Sonmi~ 451 

Sonmi~451

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Sonmi-451_1137.jpg
"If I had remained invisible, the truth would have stayed hidden. I couldn't allow that."
Played By: Bae Doona

"Our lives are not our own; from womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness we birth our future."

A fabricant who is rescued from her slave-like duties at a fast food joint by a member of a futuristic rebel alliance.


  • Adapted Out: The true nature of her Ascension, her part in Boom-Sook-Kim's "experiments" and her time as a university student are not featured in the film.
  • Artificial Human: She's a clone.
  • Birthmark of Destiny: Beneath her collar in the book—its reveal is symbolic of her freedom.
  • Brainless Beauty: Deliberately engineered to be as pretty and dim as possible, as with all waitress Fabricants. However, as she begins learning more about the world outside her tiny lifestyle, she eventually becomes progressively cleverer - until she finally dumps the brainless label altogether.
  • Clones Are People, Too: In her words, "We are all purebloods."
  • Doomed Moral Victor: From the moment she joined the Union, she knew she'd have to sacrifice her life in order to spread the truth to the world at large, and by the time of her final interview, she's long since accepted it. Even moreso in the book, when it's revealed that the Union were just pawns of the government all along and Sonmi's been used as the figurehead of a scheme designed to turn the public against sentient Fabricants for all time.
  • Dumbass No More: Goes from a naive, incurious waitress to a driven, intelligent, well-read young woman. Doubly so in the books, where Fabricants are made to be as dumb as possible and kept that way through amnesia-inducing chemicals in Soap; thanks to experiments conducted on her and Yoona, they begin to Ascend and achieve self-awareness, until Sonmi learns enough to write her own manifesto.
  • Expendable Clone: As is common for Fabricants, Sonmi is expected to suffer though everything Purebloods throw at her on the grounds that she's a second-class citizen until her Xaltation. And then she would have ended up getting murdered and recycled for cheap foodstuffs anyway.
  • Explosive Leash: Her Slave Collar.
  • Face Death with Dignity: She's very calm and dignified throughout her execution.
  • Go Out with a Smile: And a tearful one at that.
  • Important Haircut: In the film, cutting off the colored streak in her hair that identified her as a Fabricant.
  • Inspirational Martyr: Ultimately what the Union wanted her to become. Subverted in the book, when it's revealed that the Union is actually a Unanimity-run scheme to turn public opinion against intelligent Fabricants, with Sonmi's highly-publicized capture, trial and execution intended to serve as the centerpiece of the propaganda victory... and then double-subverted when it turns out she figured out what was happening ahead of time and used her trial and final interview as an opportunity to spread her manifesto to as many people as possible.
  • Last Request: In the book, her last recorded moment features her asking to see the rest of The Ghastly Ordeal Of Timothy Cavendish, wishing to remember a time in her life when she was sincerely happy.
  • Messianic Archetype: She is worshipped as a god by Zachry's people.
  • Multicolored Hair: All fabricants have a brightly-colored streak in their hair.
  • Non-Action Guy: Fabricants - especially waitresses - rarely put up any physical resistance even after gaining self-awareness (with the exception of Yoona) and Sonmi is typical of this. Her role isn't to serve as a physical hero, but as an inspiration to others by proving her intelligence and worth as an individual to the world at large.
  • Sci-Fi Bob Haircut: The futuristic kind, as well as an important distinguishing feature for her idols in the book, allowing Zachry to recognize her in the orison instantly.
  • She's Got Legs: Even after she leaves Papa Song's, Sonmi still wears outfits that show off her legs.
  • The Stoic: Becomes progressively less stoic as her relationship with Hae-Joo grows, and culminates in her wryness with the Archivist that completely contrasts her earlier passivity with consumers. It is mentioned in the novel that fabricants cannot visually express emotion very well, but still have emotions.
  • Tearful Smile: A couple of times, especially when she meets her end.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Starting off as a meek waitress to becoming a symbol of a rebellion most certainly counts. Doubly so in he book, when it's revealed that she's secretly wriggled out of the role the Union was forcing her into and taken the opportunity to spread her ideas to the population at large.
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    Hae-Joo 

Hae-Joo Im

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Chang_Hae-Joo_7308.jpg
"This is what we have been waiting for."
Played By: Jim Sturgess

A high-ranking member of the rebel alliance known as 'Union' who rescues Sonmi~451.


  • Adaptation Name Change: His surname is Chang in the film, as he incorporates the role of Chang from the novel.
  • Adaptational Badass: In the book, he's a resourceful young man who's more than prepared to gun down a comrade to stop him from giving their position away. In the film, he's an improbably acrobatic action hero somehow able to sneak in and out of prison without being noticed.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the book, he's ultimately part of the corporate conspiracy. Not so in the movie.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: In the film, the relationship between Hae-Joo remains loving and supportive throughout the narrative; by contrast, the book reveals that both Hae-Joo and the Union were just using Sonmi on behalf of the corpocracy. By the end of her interview, Sonmi reveals that she now regards Hae-Joo with barely-restrained contempt.
  • Badass Longcoat
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's very approachable and friendly, but easily the most badass character in the film.
  • Big Damn Heroes: See Disney Death.
  • Commanding Coolness: After he saves the two of them from being arrested from Unanimity soldiers, he tells Sonmi his rank in The Union.
  • Composite Character: In the film, the character is a combination of Im and Chang.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: He's always wearing black in the film.
  • Dies Wide Open: His death.
  • Disney Death: At first, Sonmi thinks he died after he fell of a bridge he made for the two of them. Later, he shows up to save her from being executed. Not so much during Sonmi's speech, though.
  • Expy: His appearance and combat skills owe more than a little to Neo. This may well be intentional, as the Wachowskis also directed that one.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Chang is very friendly and helpful, but if you fight him, don't expect him to go down easily.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: While Sonmi gives her speech to the world, he and what appears to be the rest of the Union give their lives to make sure it gets across.

    Yoona~ 939 

Yoona~939

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Yoona-939_9316.jpg
"I will not be subjected to criminal abuse!"
Played By: Zhou Xun

Rebellious fabricant that inspires Sonmi to escape her duties at Papa Song's.


  • Artificial Human: She's a clone.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted in the book, when Seer Rhee beats her until her face is unrecognizable.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: She's usually subservient like the other clones, but when one patron performs a particularly lewd act, she beats the crap out of him while quoting lines from The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish. In the book, meanwhile, she answers back to Seer Rhee, actually tells a consumer where to shove it after overhearing her talk about how "privileged" Fabricants are, and even kidnaps a child in an attempt to break out of Papa Song's.
  • Clones Are People, Too: She believes in this, and is disgusted when she isn't treated appropriately.
  • Dumbass No More: Like Sonmi, she's being Ascended from the limitations of Fabricant intelligence through experiments.
  • Expendable Clone: As with Sonmi-451, she's considered a second-class citizen, and nobody kicks up a fuss over her getting her head blown off. In the books, the site of her execution becomes a brief hang-out for kids trying to take selfies alongside the bloodstains, indicating just how little people actually care about the loss of life.
  • Explosive Leash: Seer Rhee triggers her Slave Collar when she tries to escape. She dies instantly.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: The book reveals that most Fabricants who Ascend into true sentience gradually become unstable before descending into catatonia, implying that Yoona's final attempts at escaping were due to her Ascension breaking down. Sonmi is the only Fabricant who manages to avoid this fate.
  • Make an Example of Them: In both the book and the film, her punishment is made very public with the implicit goal of frightening the other Fabricants into submission - especially in the book, where Seer Rhee goes out of his way to beat the living daylights out of her in front of an entire assembly of Papa Song waitresses.
  • Oh, Crap!: A silent one that lasts quite a few seconds, once she realizes she's not going to make it to safety.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: She's killed very early on into Sonmi's story, quickly establishing the power dynamics at play in her society.

    The Archivist 

The Archivist

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/The_Archivst_2628.jpg
"Your version of the truth is all that matters."
Played By: James D'Arcy

The man interviewing Sonmi~451, who she relates her story to.


  • Affably Evil: Almost bordering on Nice Guy levels; throughout the interview, the Archivist remains perfectly courteous and surprisingly honest for a representative of a corrupt corporate dystopia; in the book, even Sonmi admits she finds his openness refreshing. See Reasonable Authority Figure.
  • Bald of Awesome: Completely hairless, he manages to avoid a Bald of Evil through sheer affability and an implied Heel–Face Turn.
  • Friendly Enemy: Even though he's the representative of a regime that's going to execute her at the end of the interview, Sonmi and the Archivist actually seem to develop something of a rapport over the course of their interview.
  • Heel Realization: After hearing Sonmi's story from beginning to end, its implied he was on the receiving end of one of these.
    • Heel–Face Turn: Possibly. In a blink and you'll miss it moment, his name appears in a bible dedicated to Sonmi's philosophy read by Abbess. Additionally, when he asks Sonmi how she expects her martyrdom to change anyone's minds, she says she's already changed one, presumably encouraging him to spread her story.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He seems like a nice, fairly reasonable guy who just happens to be working with Unanimity.
  • Not So Stoic: As his job is to archive the momentous event of Sonmi's ascension, he tries his best to remain stoic and professional, but being young and inexperienced he often fails. In the book, he seems absolutely devastated once Sonmi is done telling her tale.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Hears Sonmi out and despite the fact that most of what she's saying is borderline heresy in their society, takes her every word into careful consideration.
  • Villains Never Lie: One of the reasons why Sonmi grows to like him.
  • Yellowface: James D'Arcy as a Korean man.

    Mephi 

Boardman Mephi

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Mephi_6665.jpg
"The problem you create is a political one."
Played By: Hugo Weaving

  • Adaptation Personality Change: In the book, Boardman Mephi was actually in charge of the university where Sonmi lived following her escape from Papa Song's, and served as something of a mentor and guardian to her. In the film, he's a flat-out villain and definitely not a member of a university faculty.
    • Adaptational Villainy: As well as turning him into a dystopian police chief, the film also excises most of his more sympathetic moments, such as rescuing Sonmi from Boom-Sook-Kim's drunken game of William Tell, or his involvement with the Union. However, it also omits the Union's role in serving the corpocracy from behind the scenes.
  • Badass Baritone: Hugo Weaving natch.
  • Badass Longcoat: As with most of the police forces in the Neo Seoul segment.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: In the book, Mephi is arrested for being the head of a Unionist cell, but apparently kills himself rather than be tortured. However, given that Sonmi later reveals that the Union is secretly being run by Unanimity from behind the scenes, it's not certain if this is the truth or not.
  • Karma Houdini: Mephi never faces any comeuppance for his part in enforcing the dystopian rule of Unanimity - at least, not onscreen anyway.
  • Killed Offscreen: In the book, he supposedly kills himself after getting arrested.
  • Knight Templar: He firmly believes that the corpocratic regime that he serves is the system of government that works, and that the practice of the elite preying upon the underclasses is just part of the natural order; more importantly, Mephi also believes that it's his duty to defend these ideals by any means necessary.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Shares this colour scheme with the police forces of Neo Seoul.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means/The Social Darwinist: His "natural order" speech he gives to Sonmi reeks of this and serves as a nice echo to the words that would later - or earlier, if you go by timeline - be said by Weaving's other character, Haskell Moore.
    Boardman Mephi: I find it intriguing to imagine that beneath these perfectly engineered features, are thoughts that terrify the whole of Unanimity. I'm not afraid of such thoughts, because I do not fear the truth. There's a natural order to this world, fabricant. And the truth is this order must be protected.
  • Yellowface: Hugo Weaving as a Korean man.

    Seer Rhee 

Seer Rhee

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Seer_Rhee_8801.jpg
Played By: Hugh Grant

The manager of the fast food joint Sonmi~451 works at.


  • Adaptational Villainy: In the book, he isn't a rapist and he isn't the one to kill Yoona - this job going to the police in the original novel.
  • Bad Boss: Just look at what he did to Yoona - either beating her to a bloody pulp in the book, or out-and-out raping her in the film.
  • Cuckold: The book makes it abundantly clear that Rhee's wife is unfaithful - and quite dramatically so: not only does Rhee know he's being cheated on, but so do most of the non-Fabricant staff, being the regular targets of her sexual advances. According to Sonmi's testimony, those who respond to Mrs Rhee's overtures will be rewarded with a plum job in a more prestigious facility, while those who turn her down will be Reassigned to Antarctica. For his part, Seer Rhee tolerates his wife's infidelity because he thinks that one of said lovers might one day have the influence to give him the promotion he's always wanted. Suffice to say, this plan still hasn't paid off.
  • Dirty Old Man: Well past middle age, he rapes Yoona early in the film.
  • Dissonant Serenity: In the film, leastways. During the chaos of Yoona's escape attempt, while everyone else in the restaurant is panicking wildly or staring in shock, Rhee very calmly wanders through the diner and - without showing any visible change in expression - detonates Yoona's collar.
  • Driven to Suicide: Averted in the film but played straight in the books, where it's indicated that Rhee's Soap overdose was suicide, most likely over the ongoing loss of profits in the wake of Yoona's public execution.
  • Fat Bastard: Paunchy and overweight, most likely side-effects of running a fast food restaurant.
  • Functional Addict: Rhee has developed a taste for the Soap normally imbibed by Fabricants, particularly for its narcotic effects. Despite spending his evenings half-naked and unconscious, he still manages to remain functional during the day... but only just.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Like most people, he probably didn't know that Soap is actually made from Fabricants.
  • Jerkass: A scummy, lecherous old bastard with a habit of abusing his position to rape his own "employees." Though it's a little toned-down in the book, his novel counterpart is still a miserable, petty-minded jobsworth all-too happy to take out the frustrations of his career on Fabricants like Yoona.
  • Karmic Death: Seer Rhee has a thing for Soap. In the film, Hae-Joo makes him drink himself to death.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Observing his failed attempts to keep Yoona in line, Sonmi remarks that it's no wonder why he hasn't been considered for executive promotion.
  • The Quiet One: Almost completely silent in the film except for one blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene in which he gives the Fabricants their orders for the morning.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Rhee's sexual abuse of Yoona early in the film serves as a pretty good indication of how vile he is.
  • Slimeball: Especially in the book, in which he's clearly fishing for a promotion by any means available to him, including licking up to his wife's lovers.
  • Stepford Smiler: He likes to style himself as the perfect manager, efficient, courteous, and profitable. Behind closed doors, he's a drug addict and (in the film) a rapist with zero qualms about abusing his position and his employees. In the book, his marriage is a disastrous sham and the only reason why their relationship hasn't ended in divorce is because it would reflect badly on him.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: According to the novel, Rhee's wife has undergone extensive plastic surgery and now looks several decades younger than him. In fact, Sonmi speculates that Rhee intended to use this in his favour by turning a blind eye to his wife's many affairs with other men, in the hopes that one of them might give him a leg-up in exchange. It didn't work.
  • Yellowface: Hugh Grant as a Korean man.

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    Apis 

An-Kor Apis

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/An-Kor_Apis_8655.jpg
Played By: Keith David

The leader of the rebel alliance Hae-Joo belongs to.


  • Big Good: Of The Union.
  • Badass Baritone: Again, Keith David. He's a very respected fighter and war hero.
  • Badass in Charge: Of the Union.
  • Badass Long Robe: He wears one.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: He has multiple facial scars, serving as visual shorthand for his role as a grizzled war hero.
  • Light Is Good: His white clothing serves to emphasize his authority and good motivations. Subverted in the book, where he's ultimately part of the corporate conspiracy.
  • Minor Major Character: His scheme to create a self-aware clone in order to motivate the population kicks off Sonmi's story, although he's not seen much in it.
  • Rebel Leader: In charge of the Union. Subverted in the books, when it's revealed that he's actually a Unanimity plant.

    Ovid 

Dr. Ovid

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Dr__Ovid_2483.jpg
Played By: Halle Berry

A scientist that helps Sonmi remove her Explosive Leash after her escape.


  • Adaptational Ugliness: Double dose, given that Dr Ovid's technically based on two characters; the implanter is described as an anonymous little man, while Madame Ovid is noted for being a bone-white woman with "harsh beauty" attributed to plastic surgery. Dr Ovid is a wizened old man with a patchy moustache and beard.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Works for La Résistance or simply doesn't ask questions. What he does is illegal anyway.
  • Composite Character: Combines the illegal implanter who removes Sonmi's subcutaneous barcode and Madame Ovid, the facescaper who provides Sonmi with plastic surgery so she can evade the authorities.
  • Crosscast Role: Unless Ovid is supposed to be a very hairy and unattractive old woman.
  • Electronic Eye: He has one.
  • Gender Flip: In the book, Ovid is a woman - making the aforementioned Crosscast Role somewhat baffling.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Wears one as a doctor.
  • Older Than They Look: Only in the book, where Madame Ovid has been cosmetically altered to appear in her mid-twenties, though her aged voice gives her away.
  • Yellowface: Halle Berry as a Korean man.
  • Vocal Dissonance: In the book, her youthful appearance is contrasted sharply by her voice, which is described as "rough as a saw."

    The Actor 

Actor Playing Timothy Cavendish

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/1725489_3056.jpg
Played By: Tom Hanks

The star of the in-Universe film based on the life of Timothy Cavendish.


  • As Himself: One can always speculate that the actor playing Timothy Cavendish in-Universe is indeed supposed to be Tom Hanks himself.
  • Large Ham: Well, he is playing Cavendish, who is quite hammy himself.
  • Meaningful Echo: "I will not be subjugated to criminal abuse!"

     Suleiman 

Yosouf Suleiman

Played By: Susan Sarandon

One of the many authors that Sonmi studies following her escape from Papa Song's.


  • Crosscast Role: Yes, that's Susan Sarandon under that beard.
  • Posthumous Character: Killed in a car-bombing prior to the events of the novel.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Even more so in the book, when it turns out that Yosouf wrote the thesis on Fabricant Ascension that would eventually applied to Yoona and Sonmi. Other than that, he has no other role in the story, having been killed some time prior to the events of the story, but without his research - and Boom-Sook-Kim's willingness to take credit for it - Sonmi would never have developed beyond her preordained status.

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