Vivarium – Film Review
by Frank L.
Director: Lorcan Finnegan
Writers: Lorcan Finnegan (story by), Garret Shanley (story by)
Stars: Imogen Poots, Danielle Ryan, Molly McCann, Jesse Eisenberg
Vivarium is released today online across major digital platforms
One of the dictionary definitions of Vivarium is “an enclosure, container, or structure adapted or prepared for keeping animals under semi-natural conditions for observation or study or as pets; an aquarium or terrarium.”
Tom ( Jesse Eisenberg) and Gemma (Imogen Poots) are an easy going couple: he a freelance gardener, she a teacher. In a desultory way they are looking for a house to set up home. They stumble across a shiny estate agents which has a salesman (Jack Hudson) with a creepy smile, dressed as if he was a tailor’s dummy. The sales patter slips easily from him. He wants to show them a new suburban estate called “Yonder”. They drive out to inspect the property. All the houses are identical in an uninspired shade of green. They stretch in all directions as far as the eye can see. Number nine is the one Tom and Gemma are shown. They do not fancy it or the surroundings. They try to leave but the anonymous salesman has disappeared. No matter what way Tom and Gemma turn in the maze of houses they keep on returning to number 9. That is where their life is going to be. There is to be no escape but it is going to contain a series of unsettling happenings. Yonder is the vivarium.
Tom and Gemma were never going to be suited to the sterile suburban world of Yonder but they find themselves by circumstances incarcerated in it. It is an alien world for them. Similar in fact to many young couples who find themselves living in remote suburban locations.
Eisenberg and Poots each are impressive as they mutate from an easy going couple to a pair of individuals who are living in a scary world with which they have no empathy. Both of them manage to handle the transformation from their initial laid back existence to a world where everything is alien including the arrival of a child which needs to be brought up.
This is an unsettling film to watch. It is well made and with strong performances by the lead actors. It also has a title which is remarkably apt. It is a film strangely suited for our times.