You can lust after robots.
That is one thing this intelligent movie proves.
It’s not just from the pen, it’s now from the eye, of Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later scriptwriter) as he makes an impressive directorial debut.
The story is about Caleb, a star employee of Google (not exactly hidden), who wins a week’s stay at the owner’s secluded mansion in the country to work on a secret project. This turns out to be the latest iteration in Oscar Isaac’s (Google boss) quest to create the perfect AI robot.
Caleb’s role in all this is to perform a Turing test on the robot (The Turing Test is when a machine attempts to fool a human being into thinking it is human). This is helped by the fact that the robot in question is the dazzlingly beautiful Ava, played by Alicia Vikander. Her screen presence, often shorn of hair, is electrifying throughout.
Naturally the test escalates as Ava appears to seduce Caleb (and who can blame him for falling for her allure).
The film asks us to consider whether artificial intelligence can rise above the purely mechanistic and create genuine emotion and human thinking, doing so in rich, but sterile, surroundings.
Is Nathan (the boss) playing God and can Caleb (probably a deliberately biblical sounding name) stop what may be one step too far for humankind?
And if Ava really is capable of human thinking can she outwit the experiment and establish authority of her own. All is revealed.
Much has been made of the film’s title – that it is a meaningless construct – but it seems fairly obvious to me.
Can the machine (Ava) become an ex-machine?