Written and directed by Alex Garland, this new sci-fi film is based on the best selling novel of the same name. It is a dazzling trippy story that takes place in "The Shimmer", an area of earth that has been taken over by an alien lifeform for no apparent reason. The story starts when a meteor crashes into a lighthouse and the shimmer appears and starts to spread.
Natalie Portman stars as an ex-military, biologist whose husband, played by Oscar Isaac, returns after disappearing into the shimmer for a year. Once he returns, his health immediately deteriorates and to save him, Ms. Portman and four other scientists head into the shimmer to try to figure out the source of the phenomena.
The other scientists are played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Tuva Novotny. To Mr. Garland's credit, the fact that five woman make up the major cast never seems out of the ordinary and and perfectly natural. From an audience perspective, it's a pretty forward thinking casting choice and the women make the most of their roles.
Once inside the shimmer, the film turns into a very trippy adventure. The landscape is beautiful, filled with strange plants and creatures that are mutating from the original fauna and flora. The soundtrack as well, creates an alien sensation as the five woman go deeper into the shimmer to reach the lighthouse and source of the mystery. There are moments of violent surprise and constant suspense throughout the film. Once the destination is reached, the story goes off the rails in surreal craziness, giving us answers but even more questions.
This is a thought provoking sci-fi adventure that keeps its audience off balance. Truly cinema escapism.