Thursday, December 12, 2002

Mack and I saw Steven Soderbergh's adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris last night. I enjoyed it. It left me with one of those 2001: A Space Odyssey what the hell was up with that ending moments, but that was okay in the context of the story.

George Clooney seemed fine. The part he was playing fit nicely with his understatement of the character. Natascha McElhone was really interesting as his "visitor". The rest of the cast was good, and the score, by Cliff Martinez was excellent.

Soderbergh, as Peter Andrews, was his own cinematographer. It really is an interesting flick to look at. The purported memory sequences have a warm reddish tone, but the space-station sequences have a cold flourescent blue overcast. That coding is part of what makes the ending, er, interesting.

I haven't read this particular work by Lem, but I've read enough of his to know that the nature of reality, its representations, and how we come to know/believe them, are among his recurring themes. The ending, in that context, has multiple possible meanings, ranging from a "realistic" interpretation about what might've actually happened to the characters had they happened to have been real and had these things happen to them, to "literary" comments about the nature of characters in books and movies and what happens to the characters, what it means to know a character in a movie, how is that like knowing someone in reality, etc.

If you like subtle, thoughtful, sci-fi complete with philosophical musings on the nature of existence, I'd guess you'd like it. If you're looking for space opera, this is not the right movie for you.

One small complaint: There is one brief moment when the film breaks into full-blown Star Trek technobabble mode. My own sense is that the story could've developed in almost the same way without resorting to such. Yeah, they had a machine, and yeah, the machine poofed the "visitors" out of existence, but was it really necessary to start yapping about "Higgs bosons", etc. It's not a no-go sticking point, but it might be a point of irritation.