Oblivion (Kosinski, 2013)

This review contains heavy spoilers.

Oblivion (Joseph Kosinski, 2013)

It’s not very often that I feel I have a fresh analytical take on a film, and often when I think I do, after-the-fact I end up reading professional critiques coming from the same perspective. But I think my views on this film will stand alone, and that mostly stems from the fact that I don’t think what I’m about to share matches the director’s intentions in any way; some of the success of this film falls into the category of accident. In my opinion, that doesn’t weaken the overall quality of the film, but I wanted to state that as a cautioning.

Black and white flashes of an unknown woman grace the screen as a man’s voiceover works through these images and their place within his memory. An inference is made; this man has loved this woman, and she made such a profound impression on him that she continues to exist in his subconscious. So when he awakes and is lying next to another woman, who we soon learn is his assigned long-time mate, we don’t like her because we know his true love is out there somewhere. Here is where it gets tricky. Their relationship is one full of genuine care, emotion, trust, and even love. Floating alongside their everyday lives, we see them carry out day-to-day activities, hear kind words and see slight disagreements, all culminated with a scene of smoothly moving visuals and sweeping music as the couple passionately flirts in the glass-based pool attached to their house towering high above the clouds. This is a sweet and realistic romance.

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So when the woman from his memories – his long lost and forgotten wife – makes a sudden appearance, the emotional turmoil he experiences is distinct. But as the two become forced by circumstance into each other’s lives and we spend time with them as they restore their past feelings and sentiments, it quickly becomes apparent the connection is lost. It’s never stated explicitly, and their attempts to be who they were are persistent, but it’s too bland to be any other way. So when the two decide to meet their enemy head-on and die together, and the final twist reveals he has left her behind, it’s easy to mistake this as an ultimate sacrifice – one last attempt to demonstrate this love as true. But hardly. It’s only his realization that this is not the woman he should spend his last moments with, as his memories of the start of his relationship with his assigned mate fade in and out of the present, accompanied by smoothly moving visuals and sweeping music harkening back to their scene at the pool.

The scariest aspect of this entire film is that this alien life forged a love just as human as what we create ourselves. But we’re resilient creatures, and as seen in the film’s final scene, we never stop fighting. This movie is about as non-committal on which relationship is ‘right’ as you will find. Challenging and thought-provoking.  8.5/10

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2 Responses to “Oblivion (Kosinski, 2013)”

  1. Ginger Says:

    Hmm…that is an interesting take. I had hard time getting into the old relationship throughout the entire film, but hadn’t put much thought into it. I’m going to have to think more on this one.

    • chrisfilm Says:

      I’ll be the first to admit that there are probably a lot of holes in this take. But it’s the easiest way for me to reconcile how the relationship with his wife could have such little emotion. It would be one thing if the director was just not good at portraying relationships, but since the initial one has real feeling to it, that’s not the case. So I don’t know, but I was captivated by the movie, especially during that last flashback and I think it was because, to me, that put the punctuation on the legitimacy of his ‘clone’ relationship.

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