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Solaris | Review

Mind Traveling in Space

Clooney’s performance is an “ass”-et in brilliant remake.

Having never seen the Andrei Tarkovsky 1972 Russian original, I found myself going into this film with habitual expectations of watching a better than average filmmaker in Steven Soderbergh make a quality picture that might be as relatively enjoyable as Ocean’s Eleven-his first successful attempt in the film adaptation department.

Psychologist Chris Kelvin (George Clooney- Welcome to Collinwood) embarks on a “go in and get them out of there” type mission to Solaris comparable to Capt. Benjamin L. Willard’s journey into the Kurtz madhouse of Apocalypse Now- there are no high fives or “nice to see you” greetings, but bloodstained walls and some incoherent astronauts. Appearing as the almost perhaps chemically challenged humans in space suits are a paranoid Gordon (Viola Davies-Far From Heaven) and Snow-a true “space cadet” (Jeremy Davis-CQ). Clooney’s characters asks, “Can you tell me what’s happening?”, he is not the only one thinking this. His initial shock later becomes compounded by a nap that brings on the unpleasant surprise of his dead wife-Rheya (Natascha McElhone-Ronin) who suddenly re-appears in his life….important note to viewers: the ghost theory goes out the window pretty quickly, as she is far from being a figment of the character’s imagination, but rather a reincarnation of sorts.

Solaris is not your typical drama,- this sci-fi experience is assumingly comparable to Kubrick’s masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey- in more than just the facet as not only is it set in a space-station but has a common tonality within the overall scope of the feature. The film’s introductory moments contains limited dialogue- allowing for the beautiful set design and Clooney’s facial reactions to impose the pitch of the film. When McElhone’s character is introduced-she illuminates the screen by the aid of easily vibrant detail camera shots highlighting her big eyes and nice complexion. The narrative back-story offers more than just some ass shots, it provides an understanding of the emotional link between the two and it eventually plugs into their deeper theories of existence. It is their individual responses and coming to grips with reality that contains most of the film’s weightier avid moments. Soderbergh also strays away from agitating the viewer with quick edits that keep the pace of the film in a continual heightened progression-their pasts are dealt with no wedding pictures,- just one home pregnancy test and a bitter fight-and the rest is up to us to figure out. Soderbergh adds much of his own filmmaking devices-the familiar Traffic treatment of film lenses colors, the handheld camera which sometimes goes in and out of focus accompanied by a film score that reminded me of another Kubrick film with-The Shinning. The

In its opening weekend, Solaris will have to contend with a largely undecided demographic of potiential viewers-but the film has enough pull with the Clooney factor to bring in the audiences-but the question is…How will the public respond to this film? This could be categorized as a movie experience that might give you the creeps, for Soderbergh’s ability to impose an eerily atmospheric quasi-dark view of humankind’s struggle with our own uncertainties and insecurities on the subject of death, the purpose of an afterlife and for that matter the purpose of life itself. From my viewpoint, this is a visually beautiful love story and captivating adaptation with a Clooney in his finest performance since Out of Sight. You’ll have many more questions than answers at the projection’s end, but overall this is a mission worth taking.

Rating 3.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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