Ex Machina, artificial intelligence is a sexy woman
by Camillo De Marco
- An unsettling debut about a possible near future by Alex Garland, screenwriter of 28 Days Later and Sunshine by Danny Boyle
Artificial intelligence that’s self-aware and indistinguishable from human intelligence. The dream of English mathematician Alan Turing – played recently by Benedict Cumberbach in The Imitation Game [+see also:
film profile]– who had created a test dedicated to that aim. It's the central theme of a number of films, from Blade Runner by Ridley Scott and A.I. by Steven Spielberg, to Her by Spike Jonze.
With Ex Machina [+see also:
film profile], screened at the 2015 Bif&st, Londoner Alex Garland however, sought to add a modern touch to the theme, by imagining (without going too far into the future) artificial intelligence created with data from a Google-type global search engine. And adding a claustrophobic thriller atmosphere to the romanticism found in Her.
We’re in the US. Young computer scientist Caleb (Dubliner Domhnall Gleeson, Frank [+see also:
film profile]) is invited by his boss at an online services company (Oscar Isaac, star of Inside Llewyn Davis by the Coen Brothers) to spend a week in his fabulous hi-tech abode in the centre of a forest (the film was in fact filmed in Norway and in Pinewood Studios in London). The plan is to test out a woman-robot, the top secret invention of this IT genius leading an empire who brings to mind characters like Mark Zuckerberg.
The robot (Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, Anna Karenina [+see also:
film profile]), called Ava, with a semi-transparent body, is sexy and captivating. She’s witty when she speaks with Caleb and during the test sessions she starts to flirt with the young man, who in turn is attracted to her. During a black out, caused by Ava, the woman robot takes advantage of the fact that the video cameras are off to reveal a secret to Caleb. The young computer scientist soon discovers an unexpected and psychotic form of cruelty in his boss’ behaviour towards this "creature" that longs for freedom.
With a special talent for sci-fi and horror, Garland makes his directing debut with the disturbing and elegant Ex Machina, after writing various successful screenplays including 28 Days Later and Sunshine [+see also:
interview: Danny Boyle
film profile], directed by his friend Danny Boyle. Ex Machina, produced with 11 million dollars by British DNA Films and Film4, was released at the end of January in the United Kingdom and is coming to European cinemas and the US in April.
(Translated from Italian)