Monday 10 April 2023

Movie Review: Solaris (2002)

Genre: Psychological Science Fiction
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Viola Davis
Running Time: 99 minutes

Synopsis: Psychologist Dr. Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) is summoned to the space station orbiting the mysterious planet Solaris, to help the crew deal with inexplicable events. Once on board he finds his friend Gibarian (Ulrich Tukur) has already committed suicide, and surviving crew members Snow (Jeremy Davies) and Dr. Gordon (Viola Davis) traumatized. Chris is then startled when his wife Rhea (Natascha McElhone) joins him at the space station, although she has been dead for years. 

What Works Well: Writer and director Steven Soderbergh's adaptation of StanisÅ‚aw Lem's novel focuses on Chris' interactions with his deceased wife, who reappears in real and self-conscious form at the Solaris space station. Themes of grief, guilt, regret, and the essence of how humans perceive each other surface through thoughtful discourse, supplemented by dreamy visuals and flashbacks. The pacing is slow and deliberate, but the compact running length maintains engagement. 

What Does Not Work Well: The metaphysical subject matter is a tough environment for the cinematic medium, and ultimately the metaphorical influence of the planet is largely sidelined.

Conclusion: Sufficiently thought provoking without quite soaring.

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