Solaris

Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Jeremy Davies, Viola Davis, Ulrich Tukur

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Most serious sci-fi fans will immediately recognise the title of this movie as an established classic originally being a novel and then a movie. I won’t go any deeper into its history here other than to mention that the original movie’s running time was two and three-quarter hours long and considered by some to be a work of art. I have not seen the original so I’m not going to even try to draw any comparisons in this review.

Earth has lost contact with a space station orbiting the planet Solaris. Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) is sent to investigate what has happened to the crew and to evaluate whether it is worth continuing the Solaris mission. Upon arrival he finds only two members of the crew, Snow (Jeremy Davies) an apparently vague ‘spaced-out’ character who seems to have only partial information on what has occurred and Helen (Viola Davis) who is totally paranoid and seems on the edge of ‘losing it’ completely.

Chris soon starts to have strange experiences of his own when he is visited by his dead wife, Rheya (Natascha McElhone), who seems in perfect health even though she committed suicide back on Earth.

Without giving too much of the story away I will reveal that Chris is not alone in having visitors from the past and that aliens are involved.

SOLARIS will no doubt for some seem a very slow paced film with little action and that fact is true, but it’s also mesmerising with some excellent imagery and thought provoking ideas as what is really going on gradually unfolds on screen revealing the secrets of Solaris and Chris’ relationship with his wife.

With so few characters in the movie it is essential that the key players deliver a good performance, which they do, especially Clooney who turns in an excellent performance supported extremely well by the beautiful Natascha McElhone, who plays his wife.

The only criticism I would make about SOLARIS is that when events do speed up towards the end of the film it ends too quickly and perhaps an extra ten minutes or so around this point at the faster pace would have felt more complete.

That said, how many films are made that can, after leaving the theatre, for a split second make you question our perception of reality? Ok may be only for a split second – but that has to be worth something.

4 out of 6 stars

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