Thursday 9 November 2023

REVIEW: Foe (2023) - Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Paul Mescal and Aaron Pierre

Review by Jon Donnis
"Foe," directed by Garth Davis and adapted from Iain Reid's 2018 novel, presents an intriguing premise and commendable performances from its lead actors, but struggles to fully capitalize on its potential, resulting in a film that falls somewhere in the middle of the sci-fi psychological thriller spectrum.

Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal deliver strong performances as Henrietta (Hen) and Junior, a couple living in the desolate US Midwest of 2065, struggling with the scarcity of resources and the impact of new technology that allows AI to create indistinguishable copies of humans. The film's central idea arises when Junior is drafted into an otherworldly experiment, leaving Hen in the company of a potential AI replacement.

The first half of the film successfully establishes an ominous and lonely atmosphere, capturing the harsh realities of the characters' lives in a 20th-century farmhouse battered by dust storms. The visual portrayal of their existence, with Junior working at an industrial farming tower and Hen at a diner, adds authenticity to their meager existence.

However, the film falters in its attempt to weave a coherent and engaging sci-fi narrative. The central plot, revolving around the impending replacement of Junior by an AI replica, lacks the depth and clarity needed to generate compelling psychological thrills. The symbolism, particularly Hen's piano playing, while beautifully filmed, feels overused and fails to add significant substance to the storyline.

Aaron Pierre's portrayal of the government representative, Terrance, adds a layer of intrigue to the plot, introducing the experiment and its consequences. The tension builds as Terrance moves in to observe, interview, and provoke the couple in the weeks leading up to the mission, promising a psychological exploration that, unfortunately, doesn't fully materialize.

The main problem with the film is it is rather dull for long periods of time, never mind the baffling parts of the story like Junior driving a truck that would be 80 years old, or that the character of Aaron Pierre being from a Government agency, is bizarrely British. Everything just feels a bit off.

In conclusion, "Foe" stands as a film with notable performances and a visually captivating at times. However, it struggles to navigate its peculiar sci-fi narrative, resulting in a storyline that feels somewhat disjointed and leaves unanswered questions. "Foe" manages to offer a moderate level of entertainment, earning a 6/10 rating.

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