Native (12A) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Daniel Fitzsimmons, UK, 2016, 86 mins,

Cast:  Rupert Graves, Ellie Kendrick,

Review by Carol Allen

This is a really good sci fi story idea with some imaginative touches and a very effective twist but unfortunately it is not very dynamically told.  

Rupert Graves plays astronaut Cane, whose space craft is following a mysterious transmission across the universe with the objective of colonising the distant world, which is sending it.

The futuristic society which has sent him is obviously a very advanced one.  Instead of the control room with the plethora of flashing lights and screens that we expect in such a story, he navigates his ship via floating images in the air controlled from what looks like an IPad, while communication between the ship and ground control and with his only crew member, Eva (Ellie Kendrick) is largely telepathic.

His space ship itself is odd as well.   From the outside we only see it as a moving dot through space but the interior looks impressively like an Aztec temple, with an unnecessarily generous allocation of space for a two person crew.

We also get some glimpses of Cane’s life and family on his home planet, told through somewhat obscure and bleached out images, which are both confusing and tend not to hold the attention.   His professional relationship with Eva is less than harmonious and their telepathic method of communication, while intriguing, results in so much use of voice over that it becomes tedious and slows the pace.  Eva herself for much of the film comes over as strangely reminiscent of a Soviet young communist in the cold war era.

The action picks up when Cane and Eva finally reach the planet they plan to colonise, though sci fi savvy audiences may have already guessed the twist by picking up on the clues in the earlier part of the film.   And it is possible that by then the slowness of the action and obscurity of story telling may have alienated many of those in the audience.

This is a brave and ambitious attempt by director Daniel Fitzsimmons to make an original sci-fi/philosophical movie on a limited budget, while treading similar intriguing territory to that of the recent Channel 4 television series of Philip Dick stories.  Unfortunately though its lack of pace and clarity lets the story telling down.