Can love survive a bloodless Earth and humanity? This is the question at the center of Foe, the intimate and dystopian fable by Garth Davis, which brings together on Amazon Prime Video, the new prodigies of Irish cinema Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan. In 2065, our blue planet looks more and more like an immense earth scorched by global warming. To survive, man establishes colonies in space. Junior and Henrietta live on a desert farm in the American Midwest. An employee of a chicken factory, Junior inherited a plot of land covered with charred trees. The land has been in his family for generations. He holds it like the apple of his eye. Between the young man and his wife, married after leaving high school, the passion has evaporated, crushed by the routine and the aridity of an existence without horizon.
Until the day when a stranger, Terrance, invites himself into their home and announces Junior's mobilization, asked to serve two years aboard a space station. Henrietta will, in her absence, have the company of a robotic clone that must be programmed in detail and with reflex precision. It's up to Terrance to collect as many memories as possible to achieve this through long interview sessions. Shaken by this forced separation that is coming, Hen and Junior first see it as a way to rekindle the flame of the beginnings. But something is wrong. Over the course of this three-way cohabitation and snatches of confidences stolen between two doors, doubt sets in. Is Terrance (Aaron Pierre) the impartial observer he claims to be?
Director of the film full of great feelings Lion and the biblical epic Mary Magdalene, Australian filmmaker Garth Davis surprises with this ascetic, dusty and oppressive camera, a distant cousin of Welcome to Gattaca and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Filmed in the bush, Foe is based on three actors and the same hovel setting. And explores the fragility of the feeling of love in the face of a world that is falling apart. “ There is beauty in what dies,” Henrietta professes. The couple's decay echoes the still life landscapes that surround them. Not a bird's cry or a dog's bark punctuates the silence broken by Henrietta's angry fingers on the out-of-tune piano. The only irruption of living things are the beetles which sometimes venture into the house. Their appearances contain one of Foe's keys (the term means “adversary” in English). The multiple dissonances and intentional ruptures make the story sometimes difficult to grasp. The melodrama of the first hour gives way to a more paranoid and threatening atmosphere.
Fellow natives of the Emerald Isle, Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) and Paul Mescal (Aftersun) rely on their common roots and their rough accent to sculpt disturbing silences. Ronan's Henrietta, who emerges from her strange lethargy and takes ownership of the second half of the story, cultivates a quicksilver temperament. Capable of the most tender gestures to better, in the following scene, flee and avoid his partner. Blowing hot and cold. The tandem, which deserves to meet again quickly on the screen, makes sublime shipwrecked lovers, constantly tempted to return to the fusion of the love at first sight of their youth. A pursuit of the illusory past.
Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal carry out this quest at arm's length. Their immense and hypnotic charisma creates an illusion for a time, before the weaknesses of the scenario become obvious. By wanting to hide the truth to better amaze the viewer and encourage them to rewind the plot and spot the clues sown by Garth Davis, Foe runs empty and does not follow through on his reflection on humanity. of artificial intelligence. Innocent as the child that comes into the world, Foe’s “replicants” are capable of more wonder and compassion than their creators. All the same, the touching portrait of Henrietta as a woman fighting to regain her free will survives.