Film Review: Biosphere

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, Dave Bradley, reviews the unpredictable fictional drama exploring mortality and masculinity, Biosphere (M).

Although it can seem, somehow, a little tricky and even unfinished, this low-budget, one-set, sub-science fictional drama (with comedic edges) features some seriously big, spoiler-ific ideas, a few of which are sure to make certain punters… uncomfortable.

A Duplass Brothers Production, this is co-written, co-produced and solely directed by Mel Eslyn in her feature début, with Mark Duplass serving as co-star, co-writer, and co-producer with his brother Jay and others. Mark looks as grungy and hairy as ever here, but he can scrub up nicely and go more mainstream with TV outings like The Morning Show, and pics like Bombshell (where he’s really quite cute).

Billy (Mark) and Ray (Sterling K. Brown) are introduced living in a glass dome, and there’s the expected montage of them jogging around the structure, reading, sleeping, and joking around. What we need to know is communicated via dialogue, with no flashbacks or fancy FX: these two men are very probably the only survivors of an apocalyptic event that destroyed the rest of the human race, and the dome (which Ray built before the catastrophe) is protecting them from the toxic outside environment.

These two guys are childhood friends and, it’s revealed, were exceptional figures before ‘The End’, and they maintain a fishpond that manages to produce oxygen and food (yes, science!). However, when the last of the female fish dies, leaving only males, it looks like their deaths are now certain too, and yet Ray then makes a discovery that seems feasible, and another that proves, ahem, rather less so. Or maybe not?

This startling development should severely test certain audience members (you know the ones), but if you accept it then the narrative’s second half or so is genuinely sweet, funny, and surprising, even while Mel and Mark’s script deals with weighty and daring themes concerning reason versus magic, masculinity, sexuality, and hope. Of course.

Many have complained that the final few minutes here do somewhat leave you hanging, and yes, they’re right. But, well, it’s not the end of the world.

3.5 out of 5 STARS

Biosphere is in cinemas now

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