Solaris
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by 20th Century Fox

Solaris, starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone as Chris and Rheya Kelvin, is based on the Polish novel by Stanislaw Lem. While the story works well with the rich descriptive powers of prose, it is very difficult to translate to film.

The story posses as a science fiction drama. Psychiatrist Chris Kelvin is sent to a space station where strange occurrences are manifested by the minds of their human occupants. Apparently a nearby planet has the power to read minds. When Kelvin arrives, he too is soon affected. After his first night there, he wakes up with his wife Rheya lying next to him. Rheya had committed suicide on earth and her death had weighed heavily on Chrisís mind.

But this science fiction premise is just a way of getting to a heavy psychological drama, which essentially focuses on how little we really know about people we love and feel closest to. When Chrisís dead wife is recreated, she only remembers what Chris knew about her.

This is a quiet, thought-provoking movie and depends heavily on the skill of the actors to touch the audience. While the entire cast give very believable performances, the subject matter doesnít translate easily from prose to film so most people will probably leave the theater shaking their heads. But those willing to explore the psychological aspects of the drama will be rewarded.

This is not an upbeat film. It deals with a lot of harsh realities, death being a major theme and how closely death relates to love and life. We are all willing to embrace love and life, but only if weíre willing to accept death can we be free to love without the restrictions of our own psyche.

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