The Man Who Fell to Earth

The Man Who Fell to Earth ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Nic Roeg’s striking philosophical sci-fi features one of the most inspired pieces of casting in film history: David Bowie as an alien.

In common with Wim Wenders’ later Paris, Texas, it derives metaphor from America’s sprawling landscape. In this case, it portrays it as both a land of freedom and opportunity - but also one where, in the fullness of time, this same freedom and opportunity is a mere illusion rife with images of deterioration and loss. Over the course of the runtime, the vast vistas of the first half give way to our central character being trapped in a warren of opulent rooms that functions as a gilded cage, with only alcohol and a fellow alcoholic (played by Candy Clark) for company. In parallel, the people whom he keeps closest to him visibly age at an accelerated rate throughout.

The Man Who Fell to Earth is a visually beautiful film despite having very few special effects, and an intelligent one that neither spoon-feeds the viewer nor offers any real comfort blanket for its bleak existential message. It’s the best kind of science fiction.

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