Foe: not an F, but a low grade



Starring Saiorse Ronan, Paul Mescal and Aaron Pierre

Rated M


Based on the novel by Ian Reid, Foe is a dull, tedious science fiction drama.

The lives of Hen (Saiorse Ronan) and Junior (Paul Mescal) are upended when a strange man named Terrance (Aaron Pierre) gives them a life-changing proposition.

Foe features starkly beautiful cinematography and a brooding score with exotic and electronic touches. The performances are sombre and graceful, and Pierre is compelling as a grinning, shady corporate man who infiltrates Hen and Junior’s lives, but the characters are thinly-sketched and the dialogue feels stilted and unnatural: dramatic, but without the writerly depth of The Devil All The Time or Past Lives.

Foe has some unsettling moments of Junior’s sanity slipping and Terrence getting under the couple’s skin, but the bulk of the flat, overlong narrative is just scenes of Hen and Junior’s stagnant but loving relationship. The film has a confronting climax in its surface emotions, but the question of whether a copy can replace and have the same complexity of feeling as the original carries little weight when we know very little about Hen and Junior in the first place.

Science fiction dramas such as Looper, Vivarium and After Yang feature subtle world-building that makes their futuristic settings all the more immersive, but Foe’s sci-fi world-building is paper-thin. Beyond spoken exposition and some fleeting shots of a future metropolis and a space station, Foe could be any romantic drama set on a remote farm. The atrocious Loveland from last year is poorly thought-out and steals its cityscapes from Blade Runner, but at least feels like sci-fi.

A shallow sci-fi drama about love, stasis and lack of fulfilment that fails to fulfil and can barely be considered science fiction, Foe is playing at select Victorian cinemas.

– Seth Lukas Hynes