This is a weird film. I used to find weird films more compelling when I was younger. I don’t know if it’s an age thing, but I prefer things to make more sense now. By ‘sense’ I mean comply to basic storytelling principles.
Many things in life are perplexing and imponderable. You don’t need to discover the Buddha to realise this.
Some stories celebrate the weirdness and chaos of life in a metaphorical or symbolic way. Essentially, the story represents something. An emotion. Angst. An observation.
Vivarium is set in a bizarre science fiction world, but it’s really about real life. About powerlessness. It’s about being a cog in some else’s machine.
For a film with a comparatively modest budget it does a great job creating this surreal nightmare world. The acting performances are excellent throughout.
The world it creates is an awake-nightmare. It evokes the oddness of the enclosed town in The Truman Show. The darkness of Eraserhead and Dark City.
The story was well handled and delivered without cliché or schmaltz. But, for me, it could have done with some optimism. Especially when watching it at the tail end of a world pandemic.