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Ex Machina

To erase the line between man and machine is to obscure the line between men and gods 

Year: 2015 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Alex Garland 
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac  
An image from Ex Machina

Ex Machina tells the story of Caleb (Gleeson), a computer programmer who believes he is in for the trip of a lifetime after winning a week's stay at the extravagant home of his boss Nathan (Isaac). In reality, however, he has been selected to participate in a study testing the awareness of a newly created AI (Vikander).

This is an expertly paced thriller, one in which Garland creates a world which feels increasingly claustrophobic. The action of the narrative rarely leaves the confines of Nathan's home, and camera angles repeatedly place the characters behind glass or viewed only through reflections, creating an atmosphere of isolation and entrapment. The themes of the film regarding what constitutes intelligence and the growing awareness of technology feel incredibly relevant in the digital age, and as such, despite being so confined to one space with a finite number of characters, the film feels as though it truly taps into the global consciousness.

The acting here is top notch. Gleeson is instantly engaging as Caleb, pulling off the role of audience identification figure without falling into typically dull 'everyman' tropes. Meanwhile, Vikander nails the difficult job of ensuring that the dual sides of her character are always on display—there is an incredibly appealing sense of humanity to her performance throughout, but she always gives the sense that there is something going on just beneath the surface, and sells the 'artificial' nature of her character through the subtle physicality of her performance. The same duality is present in Isaac's portrayal of Nathan; he makes sure to play up the more charming aspects of the character whilst constantly hinting at a lurking menace.

If you're a fan of smart, original sci-fi, this is a must see!

Callum McManus

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Screenings of this film:

2014/2015 Summer Term (digital)
2014/2015 Summer Term (digital)