Foe (2023)

Foe (2023)

A sci-fi tale of a volatile marriage featuring two of the best working actors today

7.5

Movie

Australia, United Kingdom
English
Drama, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction
2023
GARTH DAVIS
Aaron Pierre, David Woods, Jordan Chodziesner
111 min

TLDR

Not quite the revelation, but we love a mercurial Paul Mescal performance.

What it's about

In the near future, a husband and wife negotiate their emotional fallout as he will be sent to space and an identical robot will replace him at home.

The take

Director Garth Davis (who worked with Jane Campion on Top of the Lake) adapts Iain Reid's novel Foe with little concern about realism and veracity. The psychologically dense event at the film's centre—an impending separation of husband and wife—renders the whole world around them meaningless. Saoirse Ronan stars as the self-assured Henrietta (Hen) and Paul Mescal, as the belligerent Junior, two of the last remaining people in rural and farm areas. The year is 2065 and Earth is unrecognizable (peak Anthropocene) and life can be reduced to the impossibility of letting go. One fine day, a stranger comes to visit (Aaron Pierre), informing the couple that Junior has been drafted not to the military, but to a space colonization mission. A most curious triangle forms when Pierre's character decides to stay in the family guest room: there is no telling where Foe will take you, but it will be a long, hard fall; either to the pits of despair or desire, ambivalence galore. 

What stands out

Perhaps the biggest achievement of Foe is bringing together two acclaimed actors together on screen for the first time. Casting Ronan and Mescal was enough to create proper buzz way before the film's release, but seeing it for yourself is a rare delight. Equally removed from their sentimental core, both Hen and Junior seem to be surprisingly good at repressing their existential dread in the wake of a world moving on as they stand still. Even if it's hard to describe their shared emotional turmoil as "chemistry", the two performances yield something uncanny, and frankly, quite erotically potent. Their screams and aggressive gestures may be directed at invisible enemies, but at the same time they fuel a passionate yearning to keep together and never be apart. In such volatile performances one can find traces of old-school romanticism

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