Combustible Celluloid Review - Biosphere (2023), Mark Duplass, Mel Eslyn, Mel Eslyn, Sterling K. Brown, Mark Duplass
Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sterling K. Brown, Mark Duplass
Written by: Mark Duplass, Mel Eslyn
Directed by: Mel Eslyn
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 106
Date: 07/07/2023

Biosphere (2023)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buddy Ecosystem

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This extremely quirky, surprisingly funny post-apocalyptic tale slyly takes on issues of gender and procreation without heavy-handedness or judgment and with plenty of jovial camaraderie.

It's sometime in the future, and the world has been destroyed by some unnamed disaster, possibly caused by U.S. President Billy (Mark Duplass). Now Billy and his best friend, scientist Ray (Sterling K. Brown) are the last known survivors, living in a biosphere designed and built by Ray. They spend their days jogging, reading, playing video games, and growing food.

They have a delicate ecosystem based around a fish pond, and when their only female fish dies, things begin to look bleak. But one day, in an example of emergency evolution, one of the remaining fish begins changing its sex organs from male to female, providing a new lease on life. Then, strangely, Billy begins exhibiting changes of his own.

Written by Mark Duplass and Mel Eslyn and directed by Eslyn (a producer on the Duplass movie The One I Love, making her feature directing debut), Biosphere playfully avoids letting us in on what happened, why Billy and Jay are here, and what that green light in the dark sky actually is. It's the rare movie that allows the audience to use a little of its own imagination.

The interactions between the characters are loose and silly, kicking things off with an in-depth discussion of the Super Mario Bros. game. Jay doesn't like the books that Billy has chosen for the biosphere's shelves (they're too intelligent; he prefers "beach reads") and sometimes doesn't understand some of Billy's more eloquent vocabulary. But they also call each other "dude" and play at towel-fights after a run.

So when it comes time to discuss the more important issues at hand (specifically, the changes happening to Jay's body and what to do about them), we're right there with them. The themes here are current and progressive, and could have been handled badly, or in way that made viewers feel squirmy or uncomfortable. But instead Biosphere strikes just the right tone, choosing life.

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