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Solaris (2002)
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Review Date: November 25, 2002
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Steven Soderbergh
Producers: James Cameron, Jon Landau, Rae Sanchini
Actors:
George Clooney as Chris Kelvin
Natascha McElhone as Rehya Kelvin
Jeremy Davies as Snow
Plot:
A therapist is called onto a space station floating alongside the colorful planet of Solaris in the hopes of identifying some strange occurrences. Unfortunately for the remaining crewmembers, the doctor also falls into a confused state of mind when his dead wife starts materializing before him. Is she real? Is she a ghost? Is he dead? Is he alive? Is that really his ass or a stunt double's? So many questions, so little time.
Critique:
If you're looking for a sci-fi shootout with aliens skipping around every corner and Sigourney Weaver strutting about in miniscule undies...skip this flick. If, on the other hand, you are intrigued by the more powerful questions of life, the meaning of our existence, what death constitutes, how love plays into the big picture and why George Clooney's ass looks so great on the big screen...this film might just pull you into its deliberate place (i.e. it be slow). For me, on this very gloomy morning, as shit continued to go to shits in my own life...this movie made a lot of sense. And when you consider that I didn't fully understand the meaning behind it all...that should tell you something right there! Confused, yet? Well, this picture will do that to you. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Phew, I just wanted to get that reference out of the way, now back to my review. This film is spectacularly photographed. Almost every scene seems to be saying something: whether it be the lights moving across a face, the rigid coldness of the set design accentuating the human drama, the fantastic colors of the Solaris system outside the space station, Clooney's ass or the many beautiful shot compositions, the film is a wonder to behold. The score is also one of the more memorable arrangements of the year, with a melancholic chime keeping you entranced throughout.

As for the acting, well...it felt a lot like a play-- with only about four actual characters in the entire film. The standout in the bunch was definitely Clooney though, who really comes into his own as a "real" actor with this role, instead of just another pretty ass...I mean, face (sorry folks...that's the one joke I got and I'm gonna milk it!) I really felt for the poor shlep throughout the movie, and when you consider that the entire focus of the film is basically on him...thumbs up for the Cloonster. Natascha McElhone was also solid and looked quite stunning in several shots, and I also gotta tip my hat to Jeremy Davies, an actor who usually gets on my nerves, but who is quite humorous here as the agitated, yet eerily calm, secondary character. His hand movements alone should get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Limbs. As for Clooney's ass...okay, okay, it's played out! On a more serious note, the film is really much more existential than anything, and even though we are provided with some insight into the lives of these people, a lot of the answers are left to our imaginations and discussion afterward. Is the film about love, death, redemption, life, regret, taking chances? I really enjoyed this movie because it offered a unique perspective on our lives here on earth and how we deal with guilt, love, attraction, memory, fate and various other emotions. For a "sci-fi" flick created by Soderbergh and James Cameron, I also expected the film to last a little over four hours, but a buck forty after I sat down, I was getting back up to leave. Dare I say...I would actually have liked it to last longer? This is definitely one of those ambiguous films that I want to watch at least a couple of more times (perhaps with a more acute sense of my senses the next time around as well), but don't see scoring very well in the big movie houses (art-houses, on the other hand...).

In fact, if you're looking for an actual "story" or clear-cut resolutions, you ain't gonna find them here. This movie is a lot like a poem...it sounds good, it looks good and it seems to have a lot of meaning, but ultimately, it asks that you to invest a lot more of yourself, in order to find that deeper connection. I tossed my own affairs into the mix and came out with plenty of emotional baggage and an enjoyable, thought-provoking experience. I hope you do too. But just like in poetry, some might just write it off as boring pretentious poppycock. C'est la vie.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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