It’s time to flick through your streaming service and see if you can find a sci-fi classic you may have missed to pass the night away, and you could do much worse than Ex Machina.
Written and directed by Alex Garland, this study of AI and the human condition, is a visual masterpiece that goes above and beyond the normal conceits of human and robot stories, to explore relationships, fears, anxiety, love and revenge.
Complex and layered, this tour de force is one of Garland’s most thought provoking movies. It works on a few different levels, and it is really up to the viewer to decide what they take from it.
When a computer programmer Caleb wins a contest to spend a week with the CEO of the company Blue Book , he jumps at the chance. Out in the wilderness, the beautiful home of Nathan Bateman is the base where the action takes place with servant Kyoko and Ava the female AI that becomes Caleb’s focus of attention. He becomes fascinated with the construct and Nathan wants to know how he “feels” about the AI. Of course it’s not long before things start to fall apart for the small cast.
Ava becomes conspiratorial with Caleb, divulging secrets under the cover of power outages that “she” instigates, and Nathan’s behaviour grows increasingly worrying as his drinking escalates and his plans are revealed.
The film was made on a modest $15 million budget and got a general release in the UK in 2015. Problems led to the film having trouble being released Stateside, but it finally had a small run allowing it to have a successful box office return of just under $37 million.
The film itself is a slow burning drama rather than an action packed thriller. Everything hinges on the story and performances, all of which are noteworthy. The whole production is sleek, smooth and believable. The story itself takes various twists and turns and will keep you on edge as you try and figure out who is zooming who.
You can almost imagine a stage production of this film being produced, the minimal cast and set lends itself to this kind of presentation, with the story and script taking centre stage, even though the effects won the film an Oscar.
This is a complex knot of a tale, told with a sci fi background that will please fans of this genre.