Pages Navigation Menu

"No matter where you go, there you are."


LFF 2023 Review: Foe Almost Says the Quiet Part Out Loud

Author Iain Reid (I’m Thinking of Ending Things) never shies away from questioning what it means to be a man. With Foe, he expands his philosophical repertoire, traversing further rocky ground. Are all relationships destined to fail? Can couples truly see one another? How much work does love take? Foe explores these relationship dynamics against a near-future backdrop of our failing planet. Adapted from his book, Reid co-wrote the script with director Garth Davis. The result is a visually striking grounded sci-fi story with key performances from fine acting talents.

A young but long-married couple, Hen (Saoirse Ronan) and Junior (Paul Mescal) live in a remote farmhouse in a near-future American midwest. Isolated, yet content, their only obstacles being the increasingly brutal weather fronts. One night, Terrance (Aaron Pierre), a rep from a company called OuterMore, visits. OuterMore is less space-travel focussed and more space-living. Terrance informs Junior, that he, and only he, has been selected to live on a space station for a year, in a year’s time. But Hen won’t be alone when Junior leaves. OuterMore has perfected technology that can create an identical AI version of Junior to keep her company. The film explores how Hen and Junior handle the next year. They both must confront what their marriage means against their individual desires.

Check out our London Film Festival coverage

There is an ethereal quality to Foe, like I’m Thinking of Ending Things, the characters’ reality is a little off. Davis adds to the mystique by reflecting questions of identity against wide shots of vast and dusty pastel lands. The film has a wonderful quality of light, especially in shots of the surreal pinkening sandscape. This churning environment rubs up against the moral listlessness of humanity, reminiscent of Wuthering Heights. Adding to that comparison, Mescal is a muscular lead. His plaid shirts and chest hair fight for space with an inner world Junior is incapable of articulating. Another Reid staple, Junior is also a primal man devoted to a person he never tries to understand. Ronan’s role has been expanded from the book, to great effect. She perfectly encapsulates Hen’s feelings of wanting. She’s deft on her feet trying to manage yearning appetites. Ronan’s face flutters with tiny movements as Hen squeezes out of the box Junior has put her in, And Pierre is also great. Terrance acts as grist to the mill of a marriage in freefall, unashamedly edging his way into Junior’s life. All three actors do well in the film’s sticky emotional end.

Foe is a stirring and unsettling experience. Failing pair bonds in desiccating environments have never looked so gorgeous. This is one to watch.

Previous PostNext Post


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.