A young computer programmer wins the chance to spend a week at his employer’s estate to participate in a groundbreaking experiment with Artificial Intelligence.
Alex Garland writes this incredible work, makes his debut as a director and succeeds in making an intelligent, challenging piece of sci-fi.
The film is basically a four hander and lends itself to a more intimate experience that is at times uncomfortable but infinitely engaging and fascinating.
Domnhall Gleeson plays the young coder, Caleb who is welcomed into the world of Oscar Isaac’s Nathan, a man who has made his money several times over with a thinly disguised Facebook stand-in ‘Blue Book’. At first he seems to be a regular guy but as the story progresses the audience we realise all may not be what it seems. Isaac is a brilliant actor who hasn’t taken a step wrong in his recent choices. Swedish actor, Alicia Vikander is wonderful playing Ava, the A.I. that Caleb is to give the Turing test to, a test to prove that the machine exhibits intelligent behaviour indistinguishable from a human. The fourth piece to the puzzle is the excellent Sonoya Mizuno as Nathan’s assistant, Kyoko. Everyone here delivers great performances with such rich material.
The idea of the Singularity, the moment when man and machine become one has been a topic of hot discussion over the last few years thanks to Ray Kurzweil and his research and Garland mines this subject with intelligence and skill.
The soundtrack is incredible, building tension and mood minimally. Put together by Ben Salisbury and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, the music becomes a character in its own right. It is stark and cold yet filled with wonder. The cinematography posits the viewer into a world unlike anything we have seen before.
This could be a great companion piece to Moon, they would make a great double bill. Both asking the philosophical questions of what it means to be truly alive. It also sits well in the style that 2001: A Space Odyssey began. Great science fiction eschewing the ridiculous plot contrivances that many films in this genre fall prey to. Clever scripting and directing allows space to communicate with the audience without much being said; a look or a gesture saying so much more than dialogue.
This is a breath of fresh air. Brilliant.