The idea of a robot feeling emotions is not an original concept nor is trying to make rot look and feel human. Ex Machina is a film with a concept that has been looked at for decades, but despite this it is great film and makes you question a great deal about humans, robots and the difference between them. These questions make for a great thriller which is intense, confusing and leads you down many twists and turns. Can you trust robots? Can you trust humans? Who is in control? What ere the motives behind the machine.
The cast is small with basically only 3 characters all be it very strong and interesting characters. We have Caleb who has been chosen at Random? To go to his boss’s house to test an Ai that has been created. Caleb is great with codes and as you will find out has no attachments in the outside world making him the perfect choice. His boss is Nathan who was a child genius and has created and AI that could possibly be human, but he has a dark side, which brings turmoil to Caleb’s world. Finally we have the Robot Ava who has been created and set up to take on Turings test. Can a robot be human in the way they act and behave? Cn they think for themselves? Feel love and show love? Can a human look past the metallic exterior and fall for a robot?
This is in the backdrop of pure isolation. Nathan lives in the mountains cut off from humans. There are no windows making the whole place feel claustrophobic and edgy, There is no escape and if all went wrong no one would know about it, this makes Caleb and even Nathan very vulnerable. The relationship between the two men is very uncomfortable throughout, fed by Ava who is almost in control of them both although they do not realise it. Despite her shimmering, shiny silver skin her face is human and her voice is human she has been made to be attractive purposely to draw Caleb in. She instantly befriends Caleb so that he is far more at ease with her than Nathan. Any relationship that Nathan may have had with Caleb is destroyed from the start as seeds of doubt are fed into Caleb’s brain. Is the Robot manipulating human or is Nathan a bad guy?
Over 7 days Caleb and Ava build a relationship by asking questions of one and other, sharing memories, showing their feelings, which is all part of the test. Everything they do is watched by Nathan who is almost like Big brother? Is it all pretense or is it real? You sit in your chair and feel the intensity of the situation and feel uneasy at every word exchanged between Nathan and Caleb. This where the acting is so good from all 3 performers. You never feel safe sitting in your chair and until the end you don’t know who to trust, who is human and who is robot? Who is in control?
The performances are brilliant in particular Oscar Isaac who is creepy, twitch, intelligent and makes you feel uneasy. Gleeson is the innocent toy to be played with and he is really carving out a great career for himself. Alicia Vikanda is able to portray a female that is neither robot nor human with her cold voice, but emotional eyes. That is a tough character to take on, but she does it effortlessly without becoming wooden or metal in this instance. I think her look is definitely based on a Bjork video. The set closes in on you and adds to the intensity and almost suffocates you as the fear of isolation and danger increases throughout the film. I loved the film and it kept me thinking! Could I see it again? Maybe? But knowing the end would take the edge off it. This reminds me of the weirdness of Bladerunner, but more personal.