Inquisitive hazel eyes, a leggy body and a voice that strokes your heart as it titillates your brain, Ava is a geek’s wet dream. She clearly is Caleb’s (Gleeson), and it doesn’t take long for the young programmer to succumb to her charm. Fact is: beyond her sleek exterior, Ava is a bewitching piece of artificial intelligence, as engineered by Caleb’s boss Nathan (Isaac), a tech mogul who reigns over the world’s leading search engine. As for Caleb, he’s to carry out a Turing Test to decide if the robot girl can pass for a human being.
Set in Nathan’s claustrophobic bunkercum- Nordic designer villa out in breathtakingly pristine Icelandic nature, the film quickly morphs into a suspenseful chamber play between three proven archetypes: the naïve nerd, the unscrupulous genius, and his beautiful man-made creature – a trio director Alex Garland controls cleverly. It’s a bewitching game of power: who’s manipulating who? Is Ava as vulnerable and helpless as the machinery exposed through her Plexiglas belly would have you believe? Underpinned by zeitgeisty ideas along the lines of “no one knows you better than your browser” and served by a flawless cast, this cinematic take on the emancipation of creature from creator is a thrilling piece of sci-fi.
Ex Machina | Directed by Alex Garland (UK 2015) with Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac.Starts April 23
Originally published in issue #137, April 2015