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Solaris (2002)

Cast: George Clooney, George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, more...
Director: Steven Soderbergh, Steven Soderbergh
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Science Fiction
Running Time: 99 min.
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
    see additional details...

A therapist travels to a distant space station to treat a group of astronauts traumatized by mysterious entities -- and ends up having to deal with an entity of his own -- in this second film version of Stanislaw Lem's philosophical sci-fi novel. Solaris stars George Clooney as Chris Kelvin, a psychologist still mourning the loss of his wife Rheya (Natascha McElhone) when he's implored by a colleague named Gibarian (Ulrich Tukur) to investigate the increasingly weird goings-on at the Prometheus space station. By the time Kelvin gets there, Gibarian has committed suicide, leaving only the cryptic, babbling Snow (Jeremy Davies) and the paranoid, guarded Gordon (Viola Davis), both of whom are holed up in their respective rooms. As Kelvin interrogates the skeleton crew, he learns that they've had unwanted "visitors," apparitions of long-dead friends, family, and loved ones who are apparently being generated by the interstellar energy source Solaris. The doctor is dubious of their claims until one night he, too, is greeted by his wife Rheya (Natascha McElhone), whose death still torments him. At first skeptical of the new Rheya, Kelvin gradually becomes obsessed with her -- and with the guilt that he feels over their troubled marriage -- to the point where the others begin to fear for his sanity. Produced by James Cameron, Solaris represented director Steven Soderbergh's first screenplay credit since the independently financed Schizopolis in 1996. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Third time aound -- by abcdefz March 23, 2009 - 3:34 PM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
-- and I still don't know what I think. But all three viewings seem like it's in the good (just "good")-but-flawed range: 6 or 7.

The movie is deliberately ponderous and much of the angst isn't really applicable to real life, but that makes it no less chewy. Clooney is very good in a kind of unsypathetic role -- sort of like Hugh Jackman in THE FOUNTAIN.

Jeremy Davies is Jeremy Davies -- affectedly weird, but it usually works. Viola Davis is terrific as always, psychologically setting herself squarely in a pretty unfathomable situation.

Beautiful photography and special effects.

Powerful, Haunting and Strange by Maasgarid January 5, 2006 - 11:00 AM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
I'm not nearly as much of an expert on the "Solaris" oeuvre as the other reviewers here. I came into this film not having seen the original, or read the book. That said, I think this is a very good, almost-great film that definitely deserves a rental. I also realize that it won't be for everyone.

For example: this film is a slow mover. Very few plot events actually occur, and much of the time is spent in still shots. Those still shots, however, are achingly beautiful; the shots of the surface of Solaris are absolutely mesmerizing, and I don't think I could ever get tired of looking at Natascha McElhone's face.

I admire Steven Soderbergh. He clearly has commercial chops, but he's not afraid to abandon them and try something different. I'm not entirely sure what it is about this film that continues to make me think about it; perhaps it's the imagery, the feeling of loss, the non-MTV-ness... I don't know. Whatever it is, I recommend you give it a shot.

SHINING MOMENT: The whole film.

science fiction this aint by alexjb December 13, 2005 - 12:52 AM PST
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful
while i agree to some extent with the reviewer who described this as an exploration of nihilism and loneliness, and i don't think that it's a bad movie taken in a vacuum, i really didn't see much in this film that connected it to stanislaw lem's book, or even really science fiction.

the book is much more about exploring a phenomena of a planet/sentience which was interacting with humans in a way that basically tended to drive them nuts. it questions the nature of consciousness, the nature of communication; lem pokes into the deep recesses of the individual human psyche while exploring the notion that there could be a sentience the size of a planet capable of connecting directly with what we consider to be subconscious.

soderberg's movie is about a man dealing with intense personal loss. the planet, the science, the fact that it's in the future, are all really unecessary, except that it allows a premise that gives the main character's psychosis physical form.

the problem is that with such big names involved, the production values are sky high, allowing them to create all the great visuals and sets that make you think you're watching a science fiction story. there are space suits involved for no particular reason; there are a couple of scenes of physics technobabble and references to intersteller travel. oh yeah, and a shiny spaceship with lots of grated floors and cramped passages.

the conclusion of the film actually inches toward the heart of the original book, but soderberg should have had someone else write the screenplay- his version is too much formula Hollywood to be a serious adaptation of the novel.

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GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.13)
238 Votes
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