Ex Machina ★★★★½

Alex Garland's directorial debut is a beautiful and thought provoking work of science fiction. I never get tired of seeing its 3 main actors navigate through a twisty maze of questionable ethics, manipulation, human insecurities, and god complexes. The way the characters of Ava, Nathan, and Caleb interact and clash throughout the movie is a thing of beauty in the way it leads to its unforgettable conclusion.

The dialogue is so remarkable that I could watch an entire movie of just Caleb and Nathan discussing what AI could mean for the future (or end) of humanity and the monumental importance of the turing test they are conducting. The conversations feel so real and not sugar coated or dumbed down for the audience. Garland is a filmmaker who knows exactly what voice he wants to use for his film and the messages and ideas he wants to convey.

Among all the hefty statements about artificial intelligence and potential godlike egos that can arise from their creation, the movie manages to root itself in our present day and give a startlingly realistic and logical explanation for the creation of Ava. It touches on the idea of companies monitoring our behaviors online and in our phones and how the massive data we willfully provide to our phones can be used in surprising ways. It's an angle I wasn't anticipating when I first saw this movie but it's an element to the story of Nathan and Ava that I always find compelling on rewatches.

The film is strikingly gorgeous, as well. The entire movie takes place in a state of the art compound/facility/home with limited windows and an abundance of narrow, yet vibrantly white, hallways. Garland evokes Kubrick a lot in the set design and with the use of singular colors to drown the viewer in scenes. But even though the influence is there, Garland uses it sparingly enough to make sure it's only an homage and that he is sharing his own unique vision.

I absolutely adore this movie.

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