The Big Picture
- Director Garth Davis faced the challenge of making Foe enjoyable for repeat viewings, as the film has major twists that fundamentally change the story.
- The film is described as “two movies in one,” exploring the futuristic marriage between Junior and Hen while also diving into a true story at the heart of it all.
- Foe delves into relationship drama and the introduction of AI, raising questions about humanity and the nature of artificial life, all while testing the couple’s knowledge of each other and their own reality.
Big twists can be a double-edged sword in a film. While the best ones can leave an audience reeling and rethinking everything they’ve seen to that point, it’s possible to ruin the film for repeat viewings now that everyone knows what’s going to happen. Sometimes, however, twists warrant a second watch in order to see the warning signs before the reveal happens. Director Garth Davis faced that exact issue when adapting Iain Reid‘s 2018 novel Foe, a moody, grim sci-fi thriller with some major reveals throughout that make it a fundamentally different story than when viewers were oblivious to it.
Collider’s Steve Weintraub spoke with Davis about the film during which he discussed the challenge of walking that tightrope to make Foe enjoyable no matter how much the audience knows. He referred to it as making “two movies in one” exploring the futuristic marriage between Junior (Paul Mescal) and Hen (Saoirse Ronan) as their lives change forever. Both of those “movies” are edited to balance the two stories going on at the same time – one involving the couple and a stranger named Terrance (Aaron Pierre) who prepares Junior for a special mission to space and what will be a long separation from Hen while the other is the true story at the heart of it all:
“It is two movies in one, and that’s not an easy thing to pull off, but that was the thing that really excited us. We had to really think about [how] we have to be truthful because if you watch it a second time, it won’t feel real if that makes sense. So we had to really make sure that all the choices we were making were truthful, but then we had to hide the truth through our choices. So, that would be through performance and where we point the camera and point of view. I guess all of that was what really excited us, and that’s what I meant in terms of the editing was, trying to calibrate how much we reveal of the real story versus the one we think is happening. And not only that, the actors themselves emotionally go through a multitude of different truths and different ideas, as well. Yeah, I mean, it was a lot of fun… Every way you look at it, there’s another perspective.”
‘Foe’ Is Another Timely Story About AI
Even without the twist, Foe has a hearty relationship drama at its center with Junior, Hen, and Terrance that will put the pair’s marriage to the test. The sci-fi element, however, comes from AI. In order to ensure Hen is taken care of and that it’s like Junior never left, Terrance introduces an AI of Junior to stay on their farm with her until the real Junior comes home. Like The Creator, which just hit theaters as well, it’s set up to ask questions about the nature of humanity and how artificial life fits into that picture. It’s also used to further explore how much the couple really knows about each other and question their reality.
Davis and Reid co-wrote Foe which is out in theaters now.