Friday, April 10, 2020

Movie Reviews: Vivarium

directed by Lorcan Finnegan
If you know anything at all about the behavior of a certain bird species and/or beings from Celtic mythology then this movie's story was very heavily foreshadowed or possibly even spoiled in the first 15-45 seconds during opening credits.

I wasn't angered or disappointed by that. I thought it was pretty freaking awesome actually. It was like solving a puzzle and only looking once at the completed picture that was provided. 
Vivarium could be an extended metaphor about the pointlessness of modern suburban life but I thought it worked much better as a modern day Twilight Zone episode. It is something that, purely by chance, might resonate with people who are currently being forced to shelter in place. Vivarium definitely would have been more effective with a shorter running time. Because the lead actors dominate the screen time without much dialogue, a 100 minute run time didn't work for me.
Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) and Gemma (Imogen Poots) are a landscaper and school teacher couple who are looking to settle down and purchase a home. The couple visit a realtor named Martin (Jonathan Aris) who is eager to show them a home. 
Martin is the sort of fellow who walks around all day oblivious to the fact that he's put his shirt on backwards and isn't wearing pants. Martin laughs at the wrong moments and generally seems to be a few slices short of a full loaf. But with all of their friends finding homes and prices going up Gemma doesn't want to miss out again. 

Gemma convinces the skeptical Tom that they should follow Martin to look at this housing development named Yonder.  Martin thinks this place will be perfect for the couple. 
Before long Gemma and Tom find themselves in an unexplainable situation. 

It starts with them getting lost. Things go downhill from there.

Any more plot description would venture into spoiler territory. T
his movie isn't quite as intelligent as it imagines itself to be but I appreciated that despite the plot being predictable if you know your birds, the film had the courage to not explain every little thing or force the expected ending. Gemma and Tom both have character flaws which are ruthlessly exploited. Tom is focused overmuch on keeping Gemma happy and letting her run things, something which is shown by her driving his car and making most decisions for the couple. Gemma, a kindergarten teacher, can be slow to recognize danger if it shows up in a cute package.

This film was low on special effects or gore but high on creepiness/weirdness. This is something that were it a book, could have been written by Bradbury, King or Lovecraft. This is an icy minimalist film. The actors don't get to do THAT much. The plot is what's important here.
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