This Week's Film Reviews (Mar 20, 2020)

14 Mar 2020

All cinemas are closed as of this week.  So, VOD platfrom Films are the way to go.  This week sees the unset dates of otherwise films that were scheduled to be released this week.  These films include QUIET PLACE 2, NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS, THE CONDUCTOR and THE REST OF US.  VIVARIUM, which was supposed to be released this week is released instead on VOD platforms.  Its review is inlcuded below.

Stay safe, everyone.


As the cliched line goes : "We will get thorugh this."


VIVARIUM (Ireland/Belgium/Denmark 2019) ***
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan

An eerie, strange and unexplained story but a possibility that could have happened in real life.  These are traits of the stories appearing in Rod Sterling’s famous TV series THE TWILIGHT ZONE that was also adapted into a play at London’s west end.  Add the element of wry humour and what one would get is the new film VIVARIUM starring and executively produced by its two leads Imogen Boots and Jesse Eisenberg, two of the film industry’s brightest young actors.

The film opens with Gemma (Poots) ending her class of young ones as the kids head home.  There is nothing connected in this sequence with the story except to show Gemma’s soft spot for children.  The audience is then introduced to her boyfriend or husband, Tom (Eisenberg) the film never makes clear, not that it matters.

Ready to buy a home together, the couple meet with Martin (Jonathan Aris), a strange real estate agent who takes them to a suburban community called “Yonder” where empty green cookie-cutter houses (green chosen for lily the film’s Irish roots) stretch endlessly down the streets.  Each home is painted the same mint green and landscaped with the same perfect tree.  Even the clouds look fake, like cotton balls pasted onto the sky.  After showing the couple house no. 9, Martin disappears.  But when Tom and Gemma try to drive home, they keep ending back at no. 9.  Then a box arrives with a baby and a note: “raise the child and be released.”  Within
weeks, the baby has grown to the size of a seven-year old boy.  And then a young adult.

According to the press notes: The film takes its title from “an enclosure for keeping animals under semi-natural conditions.”  It touches on hot-button topics such as food origins (tasteless strawberries) and gender roles (is Gemma expected to mother the boy while Tom toils in the yard?).   The script written by Garret Shanly (who also collaborated with Finnegan’s last horror film WITHOUT NAME) could have done more with leaving a statement on suburban living or being more ironic on the male and female roles as well as the rearing of a child.  The script is lazy in its omission for care of the baby.  After receiving the baby in the box, the next segment has the baby grown up as a kid.  The film goes downhill after the baby is received.  The note ‘raise the child and be released’ sort of spoils it all.  Not many surprises arrive after this.  There is nothing much to reveal in the story except to show the drama that goes on between the changeling boy and his foster parents and between Gemma and Tom.

VIVARIUM was scheduled to open theatrically this week Friday March the 20th but due to the Covid-19 pandemic will only be available on VOD platforms.  Despite its flaws, VIVARIUM is often than enough a good home entertainment nail-biter.  Think of it as an extended Twilight Zone episode.

Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/video/vi4132224793?playlistId=tt8368406&ref_=tt_ov_vi

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