What is the ‘Foe’ Movie Talk About?

Foe, the gripping sequel to Canadian author Iain Reid’s 2016 book I’m Thinking of Ending Things, also examines relationships in a distant environment. Hen (Saoirse Ronan) and Junior (Paul Mescal), a couple, reside on a secluded farm in the Midwest in 2065. The land has been in Junior’s family for many generations. Due to the depletion of natural resources, companies are seeking alternatives in space and employing robots to operate in hazardous areas of the planet.

One evening, Terrance (Aaron Pierre), a stranger, knocks on the door. He claims to be from OuterMore, an aerospace corporation, and that Junior has been selected to spend two years living on a space station. Junior finds it upsetting that Hen will be spending some time alone. Terrance tells him that a lifelike robot, a replica of Junior, would take care of Hen.

Junior finds the thought of a robot replacing him shocking and disgusting. In order to gather information to build the robot as similar to Junior as possible and to test Junior in preparation for his space journey, Terrance moves in with the couple. Relationship tensions arise as Junior starts to believe Hen is more aware of the situation than she is letting on.

Like the book, the script, co-written by director Garth Davis and Reid, has few science fiction themes. It’s certain that anyone seeking a conventional dystopian signature would be let down. This science fiction film is about relationships. In addition to the disintegrating marriage that mirrors the deteriorating planet, Foe raises issues of memory and identity, which are fundamental to science fiction just like human issues are.

Are we just human because of our memories? Blade Runner witnessed Deckard informing replicant Rachel that her memories are implanted, while Blade Runner 2049 took the memory maker a step further. Foe is a film that gradually reveals its mysteries, keeping you on edge the entire time you watch the action.

Similar to the novel where all language is quoted save for one character, the film has a long burn but a highly gratifying payoff that may make you want to watch it again in order to find all the hidden clues. If Ronan and Mescal hadn’t given such brilliant performances, the movie would have been a bore. The way these two portray this pair in the start, middle, and end of a relationship—struggling with the truth, lies, and post-truths of their lives—is captivating.

Even the title, with its meagre word count, is open to a serious reading. Foe is an intriguing illustration of how certain aspects of the human experience remain constant despite our progress. Similar to the Black Mirror episode “Beyond the Sea,” to which Foe has a fleeting resemblance, this film lingers in your memory long after the credits have rolled.

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