FOE Review: A Dystopian Love Story
“FOE” emerges as a peculiar one. Directed by Garth Davis, the film attempts to navigate the complexities of human relationships in a near-future world, scarred by climate change and technological advancements. Yet, despite its ambitious premise and emotionally charged performances from Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal, “FOE” often finds itself ensnared in its own thematic web, struggling to deliver a coherent message.
The film’s setting is a desolate American prairie, a haunting tableau of a climate-ravaged Earth. Here, we meet Junior (Paul Mescal) and Henrietta (Saoirse Ronan), a couple whose marriage mirrors the barren landscape surrounding them. The arrival of Terrance (Aaron Pierre), a government official with unsettling news, sets things into motion. Junior is selected for an off-planet mission, and in his absence, an AI replicant will replace him in his home and marriage. This revelation jolts the couple’s stagnant relationship and plunges them into a moral and existential crisis.
While the film’s cinematography, led by Mátyás Erdély, is visually arresting, it often feels disconnected from the narrative. Using muted earthy colors and steamy, sweat-filled love scenes seems to be more about looking good than telling a good story. This habit of focusing on vibes rather than the actual plot is a recurring issue, making the movie feel fake and not genuine.
The film’s thematic ambitions are equally grand, touching upon issues ranging from climate change to the ethics of AI. However, the film stumbles in its delivery, resulting in a story that starts off as disquieting but gradually deteriorates into sentimentality, bewilderment, and pretentious gravity. Additionally, the movie’s treatment of issues related to race and gender, especially as portrayed through the character of Terrance, is clumsily executed, giving the film an air of indifference and emotional flatness.
“FOE” does break the mold in its focus on the emotional and psychological dimensions of its characters. The performances of Ronan and Mescal are compelling, infusing the film with an attentive, emotionally charged yearning and a piercing feeling of treachery. Yet, even this emotional depth is not enough to save the film from its own thematic and narrative shortcomings.
“FOE” is a film that promises much but delivers little, while a lack of narrative coherence and thematic depth undermines its visual allure and emotional intensity. Despite its ambitions, it is a film that fails to engage the audience entirely, leaving them with more questions than answers.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5.
FOE is now available on Amazon Prime Video.