If you haven’t seen, this brilliant, minimalist, thought-provoking, suspenseful science fiction film, you really must go see it immediately. The story is initially simple; a tech genius/CEO brings one of his employees to his isolated home to assist him in evaluating a new AI system. From there, however, you’ll get no details from me about the plot; it’s one of those films that’s quiet and suspenseful without really being what you’d exactly call a thriller, but you’re never quite sure of the real motivations of any of the three main characters (or even of one supporting character). So, it all really boils down to those three magnificent performances. Oscar Isaac is almost unrecognizeable as the off-balance tech genius, with his bushy beard, glasses and shaved head, but he’s typically brilliant. Isaac’s last three films, Inside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year and now this one, have all been four star films for me and genuinely great performances. He’s truly one of the best actors of today. Domhnall Gleeson, in some sense, plays the “everyman thrust into weirdness” role that he’s already played several times, most recently in About Time and Frank, but this is the performance I’ve been waiting for from him for years now. It’s easily his best and heralds new and exciting things from him in the future. And, finally, there’s Alicia Vikander as the AI robot; it’s a nuanced, deeply layered and constantly shifting performance. Just when you think you’ve got a fix on her character, there are flickers of different things that make you wonder if you’re wrong. It’s a genuinely great, ambiguous, complicated performance from an actress that I honestly hadn’t even heard of before I watched this film and I really can’t wait to see what she does next. Throw in Garland’s atmospheric direction, the outstanding set & production design (seriously, that house is amazing), a thoughtful, disturbing script and a wonderful, ambient score and you have a genuine masterpiece. It’s a wonderful, wonderful movie and one that’s absolute essential viewing. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – moody, atmospheric, ambiguous sci-fi film features beautiful direction of a quietly brilliant script and a trio of astoundingly great lead performances. 4 stars.