Bottom Line: For those who want a slow, romantic sci-fi movie.
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Ulrich Tukur, Viola Davis
Originally given a seriously unfit R rating, interminable (even at just over an hour and a half long) sci-fi romance about Chris Kelvin (George Clooney), a psychologist sent to investigate an abnormal planet by the name of Solaris along with a research study group. During the study, he meets his wife, Rheya (Natascha McElhone), whom he thought was dead, and resumes their sensual relationship. When Gordon (Viola Davis), another member of the research team, attempts to convince Kelvin that the woman he is involved with is, in fact, a copy of his wife, who is truly dead, he has been brainwashed to the point at which he is unable to believe her.
Steven Soderbergh has worked as the director for a wide variety of movies. After making his career breakthrough in 1989 with SEX, LIES & VIDEOTAPE, he moved on to direct all the way from a light-hearted heist comedy, OCEAN’S ELEVEN, to a heavy thriller about disease, CONTAGION. SOLARIS falls somewhere between heavy and light-hearted. It’s not an intense, violent understudy about space, nor is it a light-hearted romp around the moon and whatnot.
George Clooney proves once again that when it comes to acting, he simply cannot go wrong. He has embellished the usual personality onto his character: suave and charming (making it easy to believe him with a woman as attractive as Natascha McElhone), yet with a subtle tendency to go all-out hot-headed. He, of all actors and actresses, stands out among the visually-adept but action-lacking film.
SOLARIS isn’t your typical science fiction film, and, in fact, the only reason it was billed a sci-fi movie is because it takes place out in the final frontier. This isn’t STAR WARS, AVATAR, STAR TREK, or any movie you think of immediately when you hear the word “sci-fi”. There is virtually no action, nothing thrilling, nada. Disregarding the futuristic twist, this is a romantic drama. If that’s your kind of movie–slow, romantic, and futuristic–then go ahead. Otherwise, you may as well skip it before you get something you never would have expected.