It’s odd how “Foe” feels so lifeless, so incurious about what it means to be in a relationship with a facsimile of someone who has fallen out of love with you. A lot of the movie feels off—like the weird, hostile dynamic in Junior’s need to control Hen or the awkward racial dynamic of Junior, a white man, and his rage against Terrance, a Black man from the government/private space company, and what Junior thinks is Terrance’s attraction to Hen, a white woman. While cinematographer Mátyás Erdély reimagines the landscape of Australia into the Midwest of the future, Davis tries to make two Irish actors into Americans, but that doesn’t sound right either. They are supposed to be living in one of the most remote places left, but she works at a sizable diner, and he reports to a rather busy chicken factory? The reason for the government to choose Junior is also vague at best, and if they can make a Xerox copy of his relationship, why couldn’t they send the copy to space? Ah, but “Foe” doesn’t do well under questioning.
Not even the many sweaty close-ups of the movie’s hot stars tussling in the sheets can replicate life in this strangely inert film. We are forced to watch Mescal and Ronan try their damnedest to convince viewers to root for their characters, only to watch their onscreen counterparts reduced to being treated like Frankenstein’s Monster, forced to suffer in front of an audience. The misplaced earnestness of lines like, “We never dreamed it would experience love,” further emphasizes how this once-promising script was badly executed. Images of pink landscapes and Ronan lounging on an ancient tree in a satin dress look more like the premise of a magazine spread than moments from a story. As AI and climate crises become an ever-growing concern for our reality, more sci-fi movies will likely ask the same question as before: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Hopefully, they find more interesting answers than “Foe” does.
This review was filed from the 2023 New York Film Festival. “Foe” opens on October 6th in theaters before a Prime Video exclusive launch.