Annihilation

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When a biology professor’s (Natalie Portman) husband (Oscar Isaac) returns home very ill after a mission inside a mysterious shimmering electromagnetic field, she joins a team of three other scientists into the area… After Ex Machina (2015), Alex Garland reunited with Isaac for another ambitious sci-fi thriller, but this time women take the lead. Slow and intriguing, the film keeps us wondering what the women will encounter inside the field. Tarkovsky must have been an inspiration; this is a visually striking thriller, with good acting, creepy moments and philosophical ideas concerning identity. How much substance one attaches to the final twenty minutes is an individual choice.

2018-Britain-U.S. 115 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Eli Bush, Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich, Scott Rudin. Written and directed by Alex Garland. Novel: Jeff VanderMeer. Cinematography: Rob Hardy. Cast: Natalie Portman (Lena), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Dr. Ventress), Gina Rodriguez (Anya Thorensen), Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Isaac.

Trivia: Released in theaters in the U.S. and China, on Netflix in other countries. Frances McDormand was allegedly considered for a role.

Last word: “So many stories are retellings of other stories in a really self-conscious way, to the extent that I almost feel like it’s ritualistic. Like, you see the beats of that particular story starting, and you think, ‘Wow. We’re doing this again. It’s happening again.’ What is the ritual? Where’s the comfort? What’s the need [this is addressing]? Particularly because so many of them are not comforting; they’re kind of disturbing. It’s just a weird thing. And Jeff’s book seems to just sit totally outside that, which I thought was really interesting. But that in itself is not a reason to adapt it, I think. It was really the atmosphere. It was just the feeling of reading it was so strange. It’s got a very strong dreamlike aspect. Reading it is like being in a dream, in a weird way. I thought, ‘That’s really interesting, and I’d like to have a try.'” (Garland, The Verge)

 

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