Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply.

Review by Louise Keller:
There are many questions raised in this enthralling psychological drama that begins with a meteor strike, a shimmer and a secret mission to a terrifying but wondrous world where astonishing possibilities are on display. The shimmer is a beguiling, ever-moving wall of colour that looks a little like a Van Gough painting with a Monet colour palette. What it represents and what are its implications is the mainstay of the exploration of this bold and thought-provoking film. Adapted from Jeff VanderMeer's novel, this is writer/ director Alex Garland's much anticipated follow up to his 2014 thriller Ex Machina in which Alicia Vikander's exquisite robot endowed with A.I. became the pin-up girl for many thinking men.

Like the lifeforms at its centre, Annihilation is a hybrid: a love story, sci-fi adventure and psychological drama. Our journey is through the eyes of Natalie Portman's protagonist Lena, a biologist whose obsession is to discover what happened to her husband (Oscar Isaac), missing after leaving for a secret mission. 'The silence around it is louder than usual,' she says during a playful bedroom romp - in flashback, as she quizzes him about the mission.

Natalie Portman is perfect in the role, her vulnerable heart clearly on display. She draws us into the emotional heart of the film and we understand her devastation. The fragmented elements from different time frames slowly form pieces of a puzzle. There are twists and shocks. Beware a gory scene that may be too much for some. I couldn't watch: the horrors, implications and bloody nature are hugely confronting.

Garland injects a constant feeling of dread throughout the film as Lena joins a small group of women, including an in-form Jennifer Jason Leigh (as a psychologist), that ventures through the shimmer to discover its secret. It's the unknown that terrifies and there are enough scares to keep us on edge throughout. The imagery is fabulous; the elements fascinating and the implications devastating.

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(UK/US, 2018)

CAST: Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tess Thompson, Benedict Wong, Gina Rodriguez

PRODUCER: Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich, Scott Rudin

DIRECTOR: Alex Garland

SCRIPT: Alex Garland (novel by Jeff VanderMeer)


EDITOR: Barney Pilling

MUSIC: Geoff Barrow,BenSalisbury


RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes



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