Ex Machina and how A24 redefined genre cinema


When observed within the context of the filmography of A24, Ex Machina – Artificial Instinct has a significant place. Its debut took place close to the studio’s third anniversary, which until then had already released titles such as Under the Skin It is The Duplicate Man, two great examples of the brand’s approach to genre cinema. The “elevation” closely associated with terror was, here, consolidated.

The term “elevated” is, fortunately, falling into disuse. He suggested a kind of improvement of the skeleton of different cinematographic fields, be it horror or science fiction, as if something made without that same intention was inferior. That’s not the case, but the conversation also pointed to something true.

In its best work, A24 empowers filmmakers to treat genre films with the same resourcefulness, creative freedom and seriousness that other studios, the more traditional ones, tend to apply only to the blank checks of Oscar-seeking directors, and look. Ex Machina is a great example of how this can result in excellence.

It’s not that a thriller with philosophical debates about what leads an artificial intelligence to become self-aware is, by definition, superior to an action blockbuster dealing with the same theme. The point is that during the late 2000s and much of the 2010s, Hollywood reserved genres, including this one, for blockbusters, and instead of producing Terminator 2, we had Terminator Salvation. It’s a crisis similar to that of terror, and although it doesn’t hold all the credit for giving us the remedy, A24 undoubtedly played its role in opening the door so that great artists had the chance to treat these ideas with respect and creativity.

Maybe we should go back to Under the Skin to talk about the studio and science fiction, but Ex Machina had a greater reach than Jonathan Glazer’s film, released two years earlier. Directed and written by Alex Garlanduntil then known for scripts such as Extermination It is Sunshinedirected by Danny Boyle, Ex Machina features three rising actors (Oscar Isaac, Domhall Gleeson It is Alicia Vikander) to stage the emancipation of the robot Ava in a suspense making up the biblical narrative of Genesis.

It is, without a doubt, pretentious, and there are those who consider the execution of this idea to be below ambition. Garland aims to create an Eden for our times, where the woman is not deceived by the serpent, but is responsible for the fall of men who think they are equal to God. She is the fruit and the consequence. As important to this achievement as Vikander’s performance — a blank slate where male sexual desires think they can paint whatever they want, only to then discover themselves as victims — is the visual work of the environment and the robot herself.

With the help of the designer Jock in conceptual art, Ava became an instantly striking figure. Brought to life with still impressive special effects, the robot never lets characters and audiences forget its electronic nature, with visible wires and metallic finish, and creates a more interesting trap. Until the last scene, the proposal is not to pretend to be humans, but to overcome them.

The episodic structure of Garland’s script contributes to this journey, adopting the model of the Turing Test to bring Gleeson’s character face to face with something designed to excite him sexually and intellectually. How do the days inside Area Annihilation and with stops along the US highway in Civil war, Garland does a simple but effective build of tension, with chapters moving the story at a pulsating pace until the conclusion comes, where the men’s egos make them vulnerable. The touches of terror and suspense that had previously been suggested in Garland’s direction explode in a sharp closing like a slasher, followed by one of the most beautiful scenes in all of A24.

Ex Machina concludes with Ava finally taking on a human form. Pasting piece by piece of her skin, she makes the end of the film an inverse of Eve’s shameful nudity in the biblical narrative. Just as exposed skin there meant banishment from paradise, here, wearing this shell represents the freedom to leave behind the false Eden where she was held captive. There is, however, the other side of the coin. Ava’s human nudity is a mask for her true identity, and when her shadow is lost in the crowd of men, Ex Machina ends by suggesting no longer Genesis, but rather the Apocalypse.

Welcome to A24Week ! From April 22nd to 25th, the sister sites Omelet It is Chippu are strolling through the history of the hottest studio of the moment. In addition to remembering the main films, highlighting hidden gems and analyzing A24’s success, we will also launch a ranking of the studio’s 24 best films. You can follow everything on Omelete by clicking here, and on Chippu by clicking here.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Machina A24 redefined genre cinema



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