Foe Review

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The title cards of Foe indicate we will soon live in a world where fresh water and habitable land are rare commodities. According to Lion director Garth Davis, his latest drama is set in the near future when climate change forces humans out of planet Earth due to their own destruction of it. The premise certainly seems pretty urgent. It becomes genuinely perplexing therefore that Foe – based upon Iain Reid’s novel about aliens – seems so strange. And yet this supposedly up-to-the-minute film takes place in another future entirely: one where technology never touched young lives; no popular culture penetrated them either. As such, there are two-dimensional weirdos populating Foe whose actions defy logic.

Foe is set in a world where the American Midwest resembles Australia’s Outback by 2065. (This was no accident as Davis hails from Australia.) Junior (Paul Mescal), a young farmer, and Hen (Saoirse Ronan), his wife, who are both in their mid-20s live on the farm. That evening, when government agent Terrance (Aaron Pierre) arrives to draft Junior into space colonization efforts; the couple must confront their marital issues.

More or less anyway. Foe gets so bogged down in symbolism and spontaneous crying fits that it ceases to be about much of anything at all. However, if you’re expecting her actions to make sense once she discloses what she kept secret from Junior, think again. Yet Terrance, Junior, or Hen never engage each other in meaningful conversation nor do they have any backstory that would allow us to piece together their motivations from overblown quotes or ridiculous behavior

This is why the hen has to suffer more, as poor Ronan is compelled into melodramatic hoops like a show dog. In the course of the movie, Hen spends her time crying uncontrollably, playing piano, and appearing naked. She speaks about whether we are looking at the sky from below or above and cries when her breast is touched by her husband until it hurts.

Yet Davis wants his audience to sympathize with such a content-less woman. We don’t know where Hen or Junior’s families are from nor why this couple is so isolated. It’s difficult to pity all that screaming without anything more of Hen than liking music, sex as well as trees.

The two are also similar in their ambiguity Terry and Junior. These weak characters do not only seem complicated but also keep doing things contrary to human culture over and over again. Take for example Terrance constantly drinking and doping up with juvenile delinquents or an incident involving boob touching.

That would be too simple though; it’s awful because: Terrance gets drunk and high with teenagers under his supervision; who does this? Or someone who can touch his wife just anywhere. Its actors’ best efforts go down the drain as they end up making fools of themselves.

Such problematic figures find a home in Foe’s odd world. This should be our immediate future; however, these filmmakers must imagine that quite some stuff will have changed in forty-two years henceforth considering this whole episode assumes no change due to other issues such as the internet or social media – which nowadays is unthinkable.

They live on old vinyl records alone culturally speaking. There won’t be any screens in 2065 available but self-driving Delorean gullwings and hovercrafts are there. Metal syringes will become popular again though solar panels will still exist while factory farming will reach its highest point ever seen since times began!

Thus Foe invites unfavorable comparison with Black Mirror a show that combines classic style and timely social criticism but much more successfully. Foe has these things in common with the two other shows: good cinematography, stellar casts, and big ideas needing to fit into the punchy seasons of Charlie Brooker.


Despite having a capable cast and crew, this is nothing more than a confused presentation that appears to have been borrowed from “Black Mirror” but with not enough force in it. As an idea, it tells people about the dangers of global warming, yet no other messages are communicated through this work of art. The characters do not act normally. It is unclear what the whole thing means- our immediate future I presume? Despite all this nonsense Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal still try to give meaning to their roles but still look ridiculous. The only reason why watching it can be recommended is because there are beautiful pictures and some interesting future technology.

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