REVIEW: SOLARIS (2002)

CAST
George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Natascha McElhone (The Truman Show)
Ulrich Tukur (The White Ribbon)
Viola Davis (Doubt)
Jeremy Davies (Lost)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
banner
Clinical psychologist Dr. Chris Kelvin is approached by emissaries for DBA, a corporation operating a space station orbiting the planet Solaris, who relay a message sent from his scientist friend Dr. Gibarian. Gibarian requests that Kelvin come to the station to help understand an unusual phenomenon but is unwilling to explain more. DBA is unsure how to proceed, as the mission to study Solaris has been sidetracked and none of the astronauts want to return home. In addition, DBA has lost contact with the security patrol recently dispatched to the station. Kelvin agrees to a solo mission to Solaris as a last attempt to bring the crew home safely.
Upon arriving at Solaris Station, Kelvin learns that Gibarian has committed suicide and most of the crew have either died or disappeared under bizarre circumstances. Both surviving crew members, Snow and Dr. Gordon, are reluctant to explain the situation at hand. Once alone in his quarters, Kelvin dreams about his dead wife Rheya — reliving when they first met and some of their most romantic and intimate moments. He awakens shocked and terrified to encounter Rheya, apparently alive again beside him in bed, and he leads her into an escape pod and jettisons it into space. Kelvin confides his actions to Snow and comes to understand that replicas of the crew’s loved ones have been mysteriously appearing. When Rheya manifests a second time Kelvin lets her stay, but she admits she does not feel human; her memories feel artificial, in that she lacks the emotional attachment that comes with actually having lived them.
Through numerous flashbacks, Kelvin and Rheya’s meeting and courtship are explored, with hints as to her disturbed upbringing and emotional difficulties. It is also gradually revealed through these flashbacks that Rheya once terminated a pregnancy but did not tell Kelvin about it. When he discovered her choice he was distraught and walked out on her. Rheya then committed suicide and was later found by Kelvin when he returned for her.
Kelvin, Rheya, Snow and Gordon meet to discuss the situation and Gordon tells Rheya what Kelvin did to her previous replica. An appalled Rheya abandons the meeting. Kelvin confronts Gordon, who in turn chastises him for getting emotionally involved with something that is not really human and may eventually pose a threat to human beings on the station as well as on Earth. Later during a dream, Kelvin questions a replica of Gibarian as to what Solaris’s motives are for providing the manifestations, but he is told “there are no answers, only choices.” Kelvin wakes to find Rheya dead, having committed suicide by drinking liquid oxygen. But she quickly self-resurrects, and it is revealed that other manifestations who have ‘died’ have done the same.
2616-2
Gordon develops an apparatus which can permanently destroy a replica but Kelvin objects to using it on Rheya. Driven by his own grief and guilt over the ‘real’ Rheya’s death on Earth, he begins ingesting a chemical stimulant to stay awake in order to monitor Rheya, trying to avoid repeating the past and essentially abandoning her to suicide. Kelvin eventually falls asleep and Rheya successfully petitions Gordon to destroy her with the apparatus as she has done for her own replica(s). Traumatized, Kelvin confronts Dr. Gordon who maintains she merely facilitated in assisted suicide and only strives for the preservation of the humans on the station.
Kelvin and Gordon then discover Snow’s body stashed away in a ceiling vent and realize that the Snow they have been interacting with is a replica. Snow admits to being a replica and explains that upon being dreamed into existence, he was attacked by his creator and thus killed the “original Snow” in self-defense. The Snow replica tells them that repeat usage of the apparatus has drained the ship’s fuel cell reactor, making a return trip to Earth impossible. Furthermore, Solaris has reacted to the behavior of the humans by ‘exponentially’ increasing its mass, thereby gravitationally pulling the space station inexorably toward the planet. Gordon and Kelvin begin prepping a smaller space vehicle called Athena to escape.
Kelvin gives up the idea of boarding the lifeboat, and Doctor Gordon leaves him behind. As the plummeting space station rattles itself to pieces around him, a replica of Gibarian’s young son appears and offers his hand in assistance. Kelvin is then shown struggling to return to normal life on Earth whilst ruminating on the idea that he “remembered her wrong” – that is, Rheya as being invariably suicidal. He accidentally cuts his finger while chopping vegetables in his kitchen, but the wound immediately heals, and he realises that he has only glimpsed a possible future and that he is still on Solaris, since an artificial environment has apparently been created by Solaris for his continued survival on the planet. Or maybe the original Kelvin died aboard the wrecked space station and has been replaced by a replica of himself without realising it. But even his perception of this home away from home could merely be a temporary convenience, because when Rheya appears to him yet again, she replies to a question of his with an implication that they have transcended the conventional meanings of ‘life’ and ‘death’ and that all they have done to each other is forgiven.
Excellent film exploring the idea of what we are and if anything we see , feel or experience is real.

REVIEW: THE TRUMAN SHOW

CAST

Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura)
Laura Linney (Mystic River)
Noah Emmerich (The Americans)
Natascha McElhone (Solaris)
Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Harry Shearer (The Simpsons)
Peter Krause (Six Feet Under)
Philip Baker Hall (Boogie Nights)
John Pleshette (Knots Landing)

a035b884afa29f51846bdab984980787Truman Burbank is the unsuspecting star of The Truman Show, a reality television program in which his entire life, since the moment of his birth, is filmed by thousands of hidden cameras, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is broadcast live around the world. The show’s creator and executive producer Christof is able to capture Truman’s real emotion and human behavior when put in certain situations. Truman’s coastal hometown of Seahaven is a giant set built under a giant arcological dome in the Los Angeles area. Truman’s family and friends are all played by actors, allowing Christof to control every aspect of Truman’s life.MV5BMTM2MzQ5NTQ0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDgwNTk4Mw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1493,1000_AL_During the 30th year of the show, Truman notices certain aspects of his near-perfect world that seem out of place. A theatrical light (labeled Sirius) falls from the artificial morning sky, nearly hitting him (quickly passed off by local radio as an aircraft in trouble that began “shedding parts”) and Truman’s car radio picks up a conversation between the show’s crew tracking his movements. Truman also becomes aware of more subtle abnormalities within his regular day-to-day life, such as the way in which the same people appear in the same places at certain times each day and his wife Meryl’s tendency to blatantly advertise the various products she buys.

To prevent Truman from discovering his false reality, Christof has invented means of dissuading his sense of exploration, the most drastic of which was “killing” his father in a storm while on a fishing trip to instill in him a fear of the water. Christof also floods the channels with news reports and commercials about the dangers of travelling, and television shows about how good it is to stay at home. The actor that played Truman’s deceased father sneaks back onto the set as a homeless man, but is whisked away as soon as Truman notices him. Despite Christof’s control, Truman has managed to behave in unexpected ways, in particular by falling in love with an extra, Sylvia, known to Truman as Lauren, instead of Meryl, the character intended to be his wife. Though Sylvia is quickly removed from the set and Truman marries Meryl, he continues to secretly pine for ‘Lauren’. Sylvia becomes part of a “Free Truman” campaign that fights to free him from the show and to reveal his identity.

Despite the best efforts of his family and his best friend Marlon to reassure him, all these events cause Truman to start wondering about his life, realizing how the world seems to revolve and shape around him, with complete strangers to him knowing his name. Truman attempts to leave Seahaven but is blocked by fabricated emergency situations, further aggravating him. Meryl grows increasingly stressed by the pressure of perpetuating the deception, and their marriage unravels in the face of Truman’s increasing skepticism and attendant hostility towards her. This causes her to snap and partially reveal Truman’s identity and life in front of Marlon, making Truman confused. As a result, Meryl is pulled off the show, and Christof officially brings back Truman’s father, hoping his presence will keep Truman from trying to leave. However, he only provides a temporary respite: Truman soon becomes isolated and begins staying alone in his basement. One night, Truman fools the cameras and escapes the basement undetected via a secret tunnel, forcing Christof to temporarily suspend broadcasting of the show for the first time in its history. This causes a surge in viewership, with many viewers, including Sylvia, cheering on Truman’s escape attempt.
MV5BMTM2MzQ5NTQ0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDgwNTk4Mw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1493,1000_AL_
Christof orders every actor and crew member to search the town, even breaking the town’s daylight cycle to help in the search. They find that Truman has overcome his fear of the water and has sailed away from the town in a small boat. After restoring the broadcast, Christof orders the show’s crew to create a large storm to try to capsize the boat, prompting a heated debate with his assistants and his technicians over the morality and legality of murdering a human being in front of a live audience. Truman almost drowns, but his determination eventually leads Christof to terminate the storm. As Truman recovers, the boat reaches the edge of the dome, its bow piercing through the dome’s painted sky. Truman then continuously punches the wall and breaks down crying. An awe-struck Truman then discovers a flight of stairs nearby, leading to a door marked “EXIT”. As he contemplates leaving his world, Christof finally turns to his last resort by speaking directly to Truman via a powerful sound system, trying to persuade him to stay. Truman, after a moment’s thought, delivers his catchphrase (“In case I don’t see you… good afternoon, good evening, and good night”), bows to his audience and steps through the door and into the real world.

The assembled television viewers excitedly celebrate Truman’s escape, and Sylvia quickly leaves her L.A. apartment and departs to the edges of Seaheaven so she can meet up with him. A network executive orders the crew to cease transmission of the show, leaving Christof dismayed with the realization that his show is truly over.MV5BMTM2MzQ5NTQ0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDgwNTk4Mw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1493,1000_AL_The Truman Show is a clever, fun and entertaining film bursting with themes to explore. Is it better to live a ‘perfect’ fake life or a flawed real one? How far can reality TV go? How far will people go to ‘do their job’? Where does morality fit in when it comes to entertainment? What is freedom?Great story, brilliant acting. A must-see.