Ex Machina (Garland, 2015)

Do you like movies that make you think about the underlying social commentary of gender roles?  If so, Ex Machina is the film for you. If not, you should watch it anyway, because it’s pretty cool.

Alex Garland directed and wrote the 2015 sci-fi drama Ex Machina, which many people view as a thrilling commentary on the tech industry.  Others view it as a commentary on gender roles in our modern society. The movie revolves around the idea of humanity. Throughout the film the robot, Ava, is tested to see if she can pass as human. The issue with this, however, is that she never will be. Throughout the film the two men testing her, Nathan and Caleb, represent the patriarchal view that women are simply things, always objectified. The film also deals with female sexuality and the male gaze in an interesting way. Robots having sex? Really weird, but also really intriguing.

This uncomfortable, thought-inducing film is narratively clever and aesthetically beautiful. The acting is brilliantly believable. You think you know where the film is going, and then it takes a drastic left turn into confusion and discomfort. What unfolds is a fascinating tale of female empowerment as well as masculine control. And for all the sci-fi nerds out there, it has plenty of technology and super cool robots.

If I haven’t given you enough reasons to watch it, there’s also a hilarious dance scene with Oscar Isaac. And who doesn’t love him?

—Britt Poteet, student in Film Studies

P.S. Film Studies has a podcast on this film!  Check it out under Podcasts.