Vivarium ★★★★ 1/2 Letterboxd Score
Direction by: Lorcan Finnegan
Screenwriter: Garret Shanley
Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonathan Aris
Saban Films Out now on VOD
Vivarium is everything you want in a dystopian thriller.
Vivarium as a film is absolutely remarkable. The acting, the imagery, all the way down to the subtle details. However, it was the lack of understanding of what was going on towards the end that put me on edge.
Vivarium starts with the ordinary. We see Gemma (Imogen Poots) teaching a class of kindergarten students as they laugh and learn. Everything is simple, everything is lovely. Next enters Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) Gemma’s quirky boyfriend, he works as the school’s grounds keeper. Through their conversation we learn that they want to take the next step in their relationship and purchase a home together. Together they visit Martin, a nut case that works for the mysterious housing development called Yonder. Martin escorts them to the development to show the young couple their possibly future home.
What happens next is only going to drive you mad. The couple lose Martin and find themselves stuck in the housing development, going in circles trying to escape. That’s where things start to get weird. Next, they find a cardboard box with a child inside and written on the outside “Raise the child and be released” This for me, begs the question: What does it mean to be released?
I think it’s clear from the beginning that ‘Vivarium’ is a metaphor for feeling “stuck” with having a child, or raising a child. Tom becomes preoccupied with a task that we can symbolize with having a daily job. While Gemma is tasked with taking care of the child, or whatever it is… Their relationship begins to deteriorate over the child and they lost sight of who they were.
Ultimately Vivarium shows us how life can flash before our eyes. Although we’re not trapped in an utopic neighborhood. We are metaphorically bound by our perception of life. We shouldn’t spend our life trying to understand why, but rather understanding our purpose. Protecting the relationships around us. There is a tender moment the couple shares in the film where they dwell on the moment they moment. Before you know it, it’s too late to cherish those memories and we fall into the grave we’ve dug for ourselves. Life should never have to feel like you’re bound to some innate force that’s a metaphorical monster. Vivarium, like other films was released on demand due to the mass closures around the world. During this time of self-isolation, give this one a chance. It’s all about how not to self-isolate.