USA 2002 : Steven SODERBERGH : 99 mins

After treading water with box-office hits Erin Brockovich, Traffic and Ocean’s Eleven, Soderbergh stages an unexpected return to form with this adaptation of the Stanislaw Lev novel filmed by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972. Numbed with grief by the suicide of his partner Rheya (Natasha McElhone), psychologist Kelvin (George Clooney) is sent to a distant space station orbiting the gaseous planet Solaris. Mysterious ‘visitors’ have been appearing to the few surviving crew members, and it isn’t long before ‘Rheya’ apparently turns up…

Solaris may be the most romantic ‘science-fiction’ film ever made – despite the futuristic trappings and enigmatic air, this is a relatively straightforward study of the emotions and memories involved in the central Chris-Rheya relationship. Though occasionally a little too enigmatic and fragmentary for comfort, the convincingly sensual bond between Clooney and McElhone makes it work – aided by alluringly sombre cinematography from Soderbergh himself and, best of all, Cliff Martinez’s terrific, shimmering, electronica-tinged score.

14th March, 2003
(seen UGC Boldon, 13th March 2003)

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by Neil Young