TIFF REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Biosphere is one of the most thought provoking and hilarious surprises of the year, featuring the tremendous pairing of Sterling K. Brown and Mark Duplass, making for one of the most original science fiction films in recent memory.
When I say that Bisophere is one of the most shocking surprises of the year, I'm not kidding because until the beginning of September, no one knew this film existed before it premiered one week later at the Toronto International Film Festival. Shot secretly during the pandemic, this film is the directorial debut of producer Mel Eslyn from a script by herself and Mark Duplass, born out of Duplass’s idea of two men running around a biosphere arguing about Super Mario Bros. The film follows two men, Duplass and Sterling K. Brown, who are the last two men on Earth living in a small biosphere who must learn to adapt and evolve in order to save humanity.
Going into this film is blind as possible is the only way to watch this film, because I cannot think of anything that is remotely comparable to it. It’s a unique exploration of science, gender fluidity, sexuality, love, and magic that goes in a direction that you will never see coming. Its exploration of these topics is heartfelt, while at the same time guaranteed to have you laughing uncontrollably as you will not believe what is unfolding on screen. Especially that one scene, and you will know exactly what scene I am talking about when you watch the film because I have never At the exact same time, the story and the themes explored will have you thinking about the way we view life and what we see as normal, challenging audiences like any good thought provoking science fiction film should.
Aiding in the discussion being generated in the film is the screenplay not fully divulging what led to Brown and Duplass’s characters to be the last two humans left alive on Earth. Instead, the screenplay leaves it vague as to what type of environmental disaster happened that has forced them to live in the biosphere in which the entire film takes place. It prevents the story from having a clear explanation as to why the story unfolds the way it does, ensuring that the focus is on the shocking nature of the story rather than searching for a logical reason as to why the story unfolds the way it does.
But, the film would be nothing without Brown and Duplass. The two of them are an excellent screen pairing that inject the film with all of its life. Brown and Duplass have vastly different filmographies: Duplass is mainly known for his comedic roles, whereas Brown has been a tour de force with his more dramatic roles. Despite this, the two of them come together and these two actors find the perfect dynamic for this film. From the first scene where they are running around the biosphere, their banter and energy is infectious. Instantly it feels like you have known these two men for years as the lines roll off their tongues and the jokes begin flying. They are comedic dynamite, creating one of the most entertaining duos that you will see in a film this year, and a pairing that I want to see more of in the future.
However, once the plot thickens, both Brown and Duplass craft wonderful performances. Duplass gives a great dramatic performance as he takes his character on a journey, finding an emotional vulnerability that is essential to carry the story while injecting the film with some hilarious moments. Brown grapples with his character’s prejudices and his struggle to be more open minded given his circumstances. It is the opposite role that audiences are used to seeing Brown in, but it once again allows him to prove why he is one of the most exciting and talented actors currently working in the industry as he finds a true emotional honesty to his character.
Everything about this film screams A24, so it’s truly surprising that A24 did not have any involvement in this film. But if you are into A24’s science fiction films, then you are guaranteed to love Biosphere. Thanks to the great combination and performances of Sterling K. Brown and Mark Duplass, Biosphere’s unthinkable and unforgettable story comes to life in a manner that starts the conversations that the filmmakers wanted to have with the themes explored in a film which is guaranteed to be a wildly entertaining watch.
RATING: 4 out of 5