Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Title: Solaris
Cast: George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Viola Davis, Jeremy Davies, Ulrich Tukur
Director: Steven Soderbergh

i'll say straight off, i have never seen the original film and i have never read the book. so i can not compare this version to anything. on it's own merits i rather enjoyed this version of solaris - visually, emotionally and sonically there are elements which seduce me as a viewer.

george clooney plays the part of a prominent psychologist. since his wife died he has been coasting along, not quite coping one suspects. an old friend gets in touch, with need of his professional skills. a space station and crew have been sent to solaris. a strange swirling phenomena somewhere out in space. something has happened there, but the ground crew can't get a rational or useful response as to what. it is suggested that clooney may be able to unravel the issues.

arriving on the space station it is clear that something bad as happened. there are only two crew members left alive and neither can quite explain what happened. the effects of solaris are constant, flickering lights and shimmering visuals seen through windows. cosmic rays bombarding the station. clooney learns the hard way something of what is going on, with the appearance of his dead wife in his bed while he is sleeping.

on the one hand solaris is this sci-fi/horror concept - this strange phenomena affecting a space station, by bringing back the dead loved ones of the people on board. on the other hand it is a film about relationships. clooney's relationship with his wife is central to the film, the chemistry between him and natascha mcelhone has a definite power.

through the film we experience the first meetings, the growing relationship and the end of things between clooney and mcelhone. the little looks, stolen touches, teasing glances are the things that bring these characters to life. it is these things which make this a very human drama. the agony of rediscovery, the possibility that he could have his true love back, becomes a nightmare for clooney. how to react, to resolve, to deal - becomes a quandry, one which puts him in conflict with the other survivors.

throughout the film the soundtrack works well to compliment the mood. a shifting liquid electronic score, that mirrors the special effect movements of the solaris phenomenon. chris martinez's score is quite effective, and despite the issues of listening to a soundtrack without the film, the CD is enjoyable in it's own right.

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