This mind-bending, Oscar-winning, completely unmissable thriller is on TV this week
One of those films that will have you thinking about it for hours afterwards.
If you've never heard of Alex Garland, let us tell you, he is a bit of a genius.
He wrote the book that The Beach was based on, then tried his hand at screenplays himself, pumping out some modern genre classics like 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Never Let Me Go, and Dredd.
In 2014 he tried his hand at directing for the first time, working from a script of his own (for which he was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar), and delivered this powerfully twisted three-hander that had viewers asking questions all the way through, while barely moving off the edge of the seats.
Ex Machina sees Domhnall Gleeson play a random employee of a tech company (most likely something along the lines of Facebook or Google), and he wins an in-house lottery which gives him the chance to spend the weekend with the company's reclusive CEO, played with subtle eccentricities by Oscar Isaac.
Once he arrives at Isaac's isolated, super-modern home, he is soon introduced to the real reason he has been invited, to meet the company's latest innovation: Ava.
Played with chilly but sensual intelligence by Alicia Vikander, her performance tied with the Oscar-winning special effects work in tandem to suck the viewer in, just as Gleeson is sucked in by this form of artificial intelligence. Or is it? Just because Ava was created, does that automatically discount her of her own freedom? And does Oscar Isaac have a lot more to hide than he's letting on? And do some of those secrets tie back to Gleeson's character?
There is a lot going on here, as the film constantly has you switching sides, never fully sure who to trust, and every fifteen minutes throwing a new spanner in the works just as you think you've got it all figured out.
The film was a huge success with critics, scoring 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the film managed to more than double its $15 million budget, which has allowed Garland on to bigger and better things. Specifically, the upcoming Natalie Portman sci-fi-horror Annihilation, which is due to arrive on Netflix here on Monday 12 March.
But before then, we definitely recommend you check out his debut, and Ex Machina is on Film4 on Tuesday 20 February at 9pm.
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