Friday, March 23, 2012

Film Review--Solaris

starring George Clooney, Natasha McElhone, Viola Davis, Jeremy Davies, Ulrich Tukur, and Lionel Richie as The Beav.

A widower psychiatrist named Chris Kelvin (Clooney) is summoned to a space station orbiting the planet Solaris.  Something has gone wrong on the station, an unrevealed phenomena that Kelvin's resume is uniquely suited to handle.  A security team had been sent to the station.  They disappeared.  With the assistance of the "space brigade" or whatever governmental body they were supposed to be, Kelvin heads to the space station.  He finds only four people.  Two are crew members who are behaving erratically (Davis and Davies), one is an out-of-place adolescent boy, and the fourth is Kelvin's wife (McElhone)...who had committed suicide long before the voyage to Solaris.


Seriously, I was very impressed by this film.  I can also see why it was not especially popular.
The unfortunate truth in American moviegoers these days is that "science fiction" must equal "action movie in space."  Lasers, fast plots, fast women, etc. Lo and behold, we get a whole ruck of the stuff.  I like entertainment as much as the next geek but cerebral variety is not only appreciated, it is something frantically needed.  Science fiction that makes you think?  Perish the thought.  Thankfully, Solaris delivers the goods.

As a matter of fact, it could be argued that this film doesn't have a moving plot per se so much as it is constructed around ideas and concepts.  It's about desire, regret, loss, and that perennial question worthy of Philip K. Dick, "What is 'real?' "  Questions of God and faith also manifest themselves in several ways, pushing and stretching your intellect even further down the rabbit hole.  Jeremy Davies plays a creepy and unnerving character losing his mind and Viola Davis is Oscar caliber as always.  Director Steven Soderbergh, on game as he usually is, takes an obvious page from Stanley Kubrick in terms of style.  That is by no means a bad thing.  I've said many times that a sign of a good film is that you're still thinking and talking about it days after seeing it.  I'm happy to say that is exactly the case with this one.  In fact, I plan to have it join my collection.

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