In promotional blurb, Netflix describes his latest original film, IO, as set on "post-cataclysmic" Earth. It is an appropriate description – halfway between the calamity and the full apocalypse – for a film that does not know exactly what it wants to be. Too measured and quiet for a post-apocalyptic thriller, yet too sterile for an epic space by Christopher Nolan and an epic of time travel, IO seems more like The Martian as it focuses mainly on grit and a person's resourcefulness to endure and cultivate plants in a place that does not forgive.
And the Earth in I is inexorably relentless, a desolate land full of abandoned cars and wrecked corner marches after "an unexpected change in the composition of the atmosphere" either stifled humans or drove them into space. Most of the surviving humans reside in a space station that orbits around I, the moons of Jupiter (also the name of one of the deadly lovers of Zeus, and the first clue that the film pours Greek mythology into every other scene).
All left the Earth except Sam (The Leftovers & Margaret Qualley), the daughter of a scientist, who meticulously controls the bees and studies genetics, alone, on the top of a mountain in one of the few pockets. air of the Earth. Sam fills her days with data, e-mailing her boyfriend who resides in Io (called on purpose Elon), and occasional trips to the Zone, an abandoned city accessible only by ATVs and oxygen masks. Although we consider "the catastrophic event" as "only our planet desperately trying to survive by throwing ourselves out", Sam is firmly committed to Earth; despite Elon's exhortation to take the last Exodus shuttle to IO, it is linked to the quiet planet, although this is complicated by the unexpected arrival of another survivor, Micah (Anthony Mackie).
Isolated, hopeful, scarred by years of light of desire, love and loss – and therefore covering all the main themes of space epics – Sam and Micah develop an attentive link, and what transpires is a vaulted, winning, empathetic and inconstant rhythm . Long looks, classical music, landscape shots and meditations on Greek mythology collide abruptly with storms, outbursts of rage that double when information falls and filter sexual tension. But the relationship between Sam and Micah has its own genuine gravity, even though I do not always know what world it wants to be, and what its parameters are.
About these parameters – Netflix's balloon content budget allows you to create really decent sets, but I leave questions about the magnitude of the cataclysm that can not be entirely filled to not understand science. For example, we should believe that the smog has smothered the Earth so quickly that it leaves the red-stained wine glasses on the restaurant tables, but the billboards that advertise Exodus mark the streets still clear.
All these inconsistencies might not add much, however, in this IO elegantly keeps the story tightly on Sam and Micah. Qualley, like Sam, has eyes wide open and watchable; she does not really have the indefinable presence of, say, Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, but it gives depth to Sam's determination, even if his logic is not clear. Mackie, like Micah, confers a profound gravitas to a poorly written role, and effectively signals TWISTS PLOT when he LIFTS ITS VOICE. Together, especially if compared to toxic probabilities, the two can be compelling; it is only when they are related to the story in romantic or reporting topics that the worn out points appear in the construction of IO.
But this does not exclude the film, whose production budget, recognizable but not the cast of megawatt, and the full commitment to sudden twists make it a perfect original adaptation of Netflix for streaming anytime and anywhere. A decent use of an hour and a half, I can not know what story he is telling, but since he is on current Earth, he knows exactly what he belongs to.