Sunday, March 10, 2024

Foe (2023)


Aside from its central pair of talented, nice-to-look-at thesps, perhaps the most engaging thing about this movie is the way many of the scenes making up at least the first two thirds of its running time feel strangely off, predominantly in an uncanny way.
And yet, upon reflection, there's a good deal of off in Foe which cannot have been so deliberate, like Irish actors unconvincingly cast as rural Americans, Australia cast as the MidWest and a whole rather flimsy backdrop-as-Macguffin about space stations and environmental apocalypse, which does little to to distract the audience from noting that this is essentially a low budget three hander set in an old wooden house.

The intentional part of the off-ness might have been used to better effect had the director not delivered a spoiler, or at least a very large hint, in the opening textual prologue.

This places expectations at the Phillip K. Dick or at least Black Mirror level, but these are bound to be disappointing because this is not a movie about the existential crises of artificial consciousness, rather an examination of what happens to the affections of wetware when presented with an edges-off, slightly unworldly facsimile of the love object.

This distinction between real and fake would have worked a whole lot better if all the real characters did not come across as so fake.
And the reason why Phillip K Dick's variety off-ness remains the touchstone for these AI narratives is that he was confronting something seriously off in his own lived reality when he wrote his stories, and so any binary doubts quickly segue into universal incertitudes bordering on paranoia, which become available for vicarious participation by audiences.

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