Avalving

Huh. How did I miss this? Here’s someone who actually understood Ex Machina.

That’s rare; most people seem to have a Kevin Drum-talking-about-the-economy level of comprehension of the film.

The only area of interpretation I’d disagree with is a bit of her read of Nathan. Yes, she is correct about how utterly detestable he is, and how vile, but she I think misses that Nathan is all of those things but also realizes them fully. He is self-aware about his foulness, and that makes it all the worse.

Anyway, the review is great. Not one in 20 reviewers actually understood the film, and no feminist reviewer did besides this latest one that I read. That particularly makes it the review par excellence.

No thought is ever given by Caleb to the fact that he is literally the only other flesh-and-blood human besides Nathan that she has ever met, or that her affection might simply be an aftereffect of the very trauma he wants to rescue her from. No account is made, in other words, for the power Caleb has over her.

In the spartan cast of this relatively minimalist film, then, Nathan and Caleb are two very different avatars of patriarchy. Nathan embodies the brutish, physically abusive side of hegemonic masculinity, while Caleb is the Nice Guy™ who affects kindness and gentility but who is ultimately no less entitled than his counterpart.

And this, so brilliant.

The oppressive nature of her situation dictated the terms of her escape; virtue was a luxury Ava could not afford if she wanted to live.

I am confused why so many feminists watched this film and somehow, disturbingly, got from it the exact opposite message it was attempting to convey. Is it that most films are made for simpletons, and this one was not? Or what?

The reviewer does bring up something I thought about, though I don’t agree: she contends that the movie would’ve been better if told from Ava’s perspective. I don’t agree, as mentioned, though normally I would. If told from Ava’s perspective and not Caleb’s, there would be no chance to pull the genius switcheroo where most people think they should be feeling empathy for poor, beleaguered lovelorn Caleb, when in reality it’s Ava who deserved all along the full measure of compassion and identification.

However, what would’ve been great would’ve been two films. One told from Caleb’s perspective — the one that already exists — and another from Ava’s. That would’ve been just amazing, if the budget had been there.

Great review, though. One of the few where the reviewer fully understood the film and what it was attempting to convey.