Over the weekend I went to see Ex Machina, the directorial debut from Alex Garland. He’s most known for writing the screenplay to 28 Days Later and Sunshine. Other credits to his name are Never Let Me Go and Dredd. Ex Machina is a scifi film, but not one with action or explosions, a la Chappie or Automata. This is more Hitchcockian and probably why I enjoyed it so much.
The story follows a young programmer Caleb(Domhnall Gleeson) who works for a large search engine company. After “winning” a contest, he gets to spend a week at the estate of the companies owner and founder Nathan(Oscar Isaac). When he arrives he soon realizes the real reason he is there is to test an AI named Ava that Nathan has been developing. The film is divided into 7 sessions where both Caleb and Ava are asking questions about one another, much like a police interrogation. I won’t say much, but as the film progresses you see Caleb begin to have feelings for Ava and vice versa. You’ll ask yourself is Caleb a machine brought into test another machine? Then you begin to wonder if everyone in the film is a machine? The film makes you question a lot of things, but not too heavy on the philosophical side. I’ll leave it at that because I don’t want to spoil film(don’t read the wikipedia article), but very rarely does a science fiction come along that is smart, visually striking and enjoyable.
A side note about the look of the film. It was filmed at a Hotel in Norway which looks like the filmmakers picked out of an issue Dwell magazine. So if your an architect buff than you will also enjoy this film. The clip below is from a funny moment in the film.