Ex Machina (2015)
As an author of some of the finest sci-fi yarns told, I was very surprised to find that he’d actually directed this film as well as screen writing.
A scant cast of no more than 4 people, we watch a coder as he’s invited to the home of his introvert CEO of his company to be part of a major new technological breakthrough.
Garland clearly has an eye for beauty which has given him the strength to transcend the black and white of his written word to a screen that is vibrant in colour and complimented with highly stylised architecture and interior set pieces. With the high-tech home of the CEO, played by Oscar Isaac, hidden amongst the stunning backdrop of what appears to be a coniferous, Scandinavian forest, together with waterfalls, rock façades (amongst which adorn the interior of this home – who’s house is this!?) and an isolated river.
The job at hand is the Turin test, a scientific investigation which asks any artificial intelligence any questions interview style to ascertain whether the subject or indeed interviewer can identify areas that can identify if the subject is real or not. And here starts the headfuck.
Ava is a beautiful, intelligent and intriguing character and as you are drawn into the repeated (and captivating) dialogue between the characters, we are given opportunities to take sides accordingly as clearly there’s some malevolent build up happening hitherto unknown.
All four actors are sublime in portraying their roles, but special mention must go to the misogynist Oscar and the Swedish cyborg delight, Alicia Vikander. She is beautiful, vulnerable and one can’t help but empathise with her plight and the difficulty Caleb has in controlling his very obvious affections.
Garland has done us proud and I’m delighted the sci-fi genre has just inherited some new blood. Watch this movie, if not for the brilliantly told and acted story, but for the beautiful cinematography and set itself.