Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Solaris Review

You've got a spare couple hours this weekend. You like a story that's a little Twilight Zone-y. (Everybody likes Twilight Zone, right?) So why not go see Solaris? It's a really good science fiction mystery, it's beautifully shot, and the actors act their brains out. (Okay, and George Clooney's naked. But it's the most chivalrously shot sex scene in recent memory -- none of this show-all-the-actress, show-nothing-of-the-actor stuff. Besides, it's so dark you never see much more than Clooney's backside, so don't fuss.)

The story is not some gloomy art film thing. It's about love and loss, reparation and redemption, and how much you really know the people you love. It does get pretty angsty. Bad things happen, people do bad things, and the portrayal of suicidal depression is scarily true-to-life if you've been there. But the overall message is that we need to respect life and each other, and not despair.

Why is this movie not being praised to the skies by religious writers? Is it the sex scene? (Oh, please; they praise lots of flicks including premarital sex.) Is it the fact that the right thing is defined by what happens if you don't do it? Are some people not paying enough attention, so they want things spelled out in a voiceover at the end instead of just paying attention to all the clues? Or is it just that there's a real lack of appreciation for Polish sf made into Soviet movies made into Soderbergh/Cameron collaborations?

*sigh* This isn't action/adventure sf. This is the low budget Doctor Who or X-Files tradition (albeit done with a very nice budget), where the sets look vaguely like someone's deserted workplace, you rarely see aliens or monsters close up, and talking about what the heck's going on and why provides most of the interest. Personally, I like a good creeping sense of terror or wonder, while trying to figure out which one it will be.

So don't be a Scrooge! It's a great flick! Indulge your fannish soul and go see this sad, uplifting, funny, odd little movie. I loved it, and if you go in with the right attitude, you will, too.


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