Starring Natalie Portman
Directed by Alex Garland
If you are fan of Natalie Portman and have forgiven her poor imitation of Jackie Kennedy in Jackie, you will find it doubly hard to sit through this excruciating sci-fiction drama where the very beautiful Portman is cast as a grieving wife of a soldier who has disappeared into a time-zone called the ‘Shimmer’. He returns . But seeming strange .
Now Portman must do a Sati Savitri and bring her husband back from the dead, although technically he is not dead.He’s only zonked out after what he saw when he entered the ‘Shimmer’. The mythologized milieu is merged into a futuristic traction whereby the events in a doomed Utopia collate with memories of a life that could have been happy if mankind had not plundered the very sources that nourished their ambitions.
This is a painfully constructed pyramid of futurist flourishes determined more by fallacy than feelings. The images are robotic repellent and remote with Lena(Portman)’s penetration of the ‘Shimmer’ with her four female colleagues designed as a bid to capture H.G Wells on a day when he has decided science fiction must end its era of thralldom.
Some of the images created to portray an apocalyptic aura are truly magnificent. I was particularly drawn to a sequence where the ladies sit deathly still as a giant creature comes sniffing around them emanating muffled cries of a missing colleague. The effect is chilling. But then, so what?
Is this a film about an otherworldly attack? Or does it aim to internalize the growing fears of our civilization of being swamped by creatures whose grip over the earth strengthens as ours weakens? The trouble with Annihilation is its absence of a dramatic epicenter.While the images of beauty and destruction are interestingly calibrated, Portman’s grief for her psychologically battered husband is never palpable enough to warrant her journey into the unknown.
‘What the hell are we doing here?’ is a question that the female lead and her bunch of women adventurers ask themselves more than once.
So do we. For all its spiralling ambitions to give visual shape to the writer’s images of a world plunging into auto-destruction,Annihilation seems like a half-hearted voyage of the damned into a country that nobody owns ,not for the want of wanting. But because it’s just not worth owning.