Ex machina, directed by Alex Garland (2015).
Caleb (Domhall Gleeson) is one of the many employees of Blue Book, the world’s leading search engine. One day he wins a lottery to go visit the estate of the intelligent and reclusive CEO of Blue Book, Nathan (Oscar Isaac). Once he’s shown around and signs a fairly abusive non-disclosure agreement, Nathan reveals that he actually wants Caleb to perform a Turing test on his latest creation: the gynoid Ava (Alicia Vikander).
This movie yells “deception” at you from minute one. The plot is advanced mostly through dialogue and at the same time exposition dialogue is kept to a minimum: Nathan interrupts Caleb every time Caleb tries to discuss technical aspects about Ava. He’s more interested in knowing how Caleb feels about her. As a result, dialogue unfolds in different interpretations as the viewer realizes someone is fucking with someone else’s mind and wants to know exactly what is going on. I can’t help but giggle at “Basic Instinct for robosexuals” every time I remember that. I wish I had thought of it.
The twenty minutes into the future atmosphere and aesthetic is greatly achieved, and a great part of that are the visual effects. I was aware that they are made by adding layers of CGI over chroma key material on Alicia Vikander, but even if you pay close attention the effect is seamless. Kudos on the location choices. The acting is good. The scenes are mostly dialogue with not much milking the giant cow, so the dialogue is spoken naturally and flows in a way that is easy to understand. Alicia Vikander manages to look surprisingly a lot like what we tend to assume a gynoid would look like, even if none exist yet.
Nevertheless, since this movie revolves around dialogue, deception and trying to figure out what makes a machine truly intelligent, you might not like it if you’re not into that much conversation and prefer a little more action like in the Elvis song.
And now for the discussion of themes, plot and character: