JULY 7TH, 2023
DIRECTED BY: MEL ESLYN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
We’ve seen movies before about the last two people on Earth. Where one man and women figure out how to survive together at the end of it all. But that is often presumptuous, isn’t it? What if it was two women? Or in the instance of Biosphere, two men left, living in a bubble, and doing the best they can to survive. Living forever is not an option so is humanity supposed to just die off? Or could it adapt to the situation? Those are the questions that director and co-writer Mel Eslyn is laying out before us. It’s not just a story of survival, it’s a story of two men navigating their reality together, in the strange and wildly unique new film that is Biosphere.
It won’t be for everyone but what will be achieved is a movie that elicits conversation. Shockingly enough, for a movie that is about two men surviving together, what Biosphere becomes is a rare feminist tale, told from an angle we’ve never seen before. The two leads are Ray (Sterling K. Brown) and Billy (Mark Duplass), both obviously friends, but mostly just tolerating their realities. They go for a morning run in their bubble, they have their set of chores to take care of, and a collection of fish that they nurture, making sure to always have a girl fish so more fish can be made. But then, the girl fish dies, and the thought of them running out of a source of food puts a conflict in their bubble. Who is to blame and how will they adapt? What transpires after is a switch of evolutionary amazement, changing what the two men think about life, sexuality, their own toxic masculinity, and what it means to be alone in the world.
I’m trying my best to be as vague as possible in describing what happens in Biosphere. The success of it hinges on the less you know. It’s because of that mystery, that unpredictability as to why the direction from Eslyn is spectacular, especially for a first-time feature. She co-wrote the screenplay with Duplass and immediately understands how to make the two-hander work. The crafting of the set is simple, yet practical space for the two actors to work in, along with creating great chemistry for Brown and Duplass to have. The waves of their friendship, hatred, being flat-out sick of one another, and having a realization that this is their reality all help a tight narrative flow.
Performance-wise, the best work comes from Brown, who is no stranger to working on the stage and screen. There is a great dynamic between both actors that allows their true selves to blend with their characters. Brown’s Ray is a brilliant person, obviously the reason why things like plant life, and fish survive as long as they have. Duplass’ character is a bit aloof while revealing that yes, he was once the President of the United States, but as his mistakes frustrate Ray, it is evident that the two men must both confront realities that they never even considered possible.
What makes Biosphere such a wild accomplishment recalls back to my statement of this being a powerful feminist film. Eslyn and Duplass are not afraid to dig into subjects about gender, sexuality, and the constant fears that men can have about themselves. This is subject matter that needs to be confronted more often, a viewpoint taken as to how men can be more in tune with their own bodies, and learn to coexist in an ever-changing world. There is a fearless approach in Biosphere that both inspired and fascinated me. Bold was the word I used to describe it. Biosphere is a bold and fantastic film. Just don’t be the last on earth to see it.
BIOSPHERE IS NOW PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS AND AVAILABLE TO RENT ON VOD JULY 7TH, 2023.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady