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Biosphere: Film Review

Biosphere is a character-driven sci-fi film that has an extremely unique premise but fails to take advantage of it.

In Biosphere, the world is on the brink of extinction. There are only two men left on Earth: Billy (Mark Duplass, of The Morning Show) and Ray (Sterling K. Brown, of Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.). They have been lifelong friends and, due to Ray’s genius, have been surviving in a biosphere with everything that one would need. When their lives are threatened due to a lack of resources, they are not sure how they will survive in the near future, until an unusual change begins to occur, shifting their perceptions of what is possible.

Watching Biosphere knowing absolutely nothing about the premise, this was one crazy ride. Without spoiling anything, where this story goes after the first twenty minutes was the last thing I was expecting when I started this film, but through this unexpected shift, there was an element of mystery that made it feel suspenseful, even though the stakes for the characters aren’t extremely high. Both Duplass and Brown give strikingly different performances, yet they bring the best out of each other, especially during the film’s more comedic moments.

Speaking of comedy, even though Biosphere is more of a sci-fi drama, there is a lighthearted energy that is present throughout the entire film. With the twists that occur during the runtime, there is not much you can do but laugh at the utter absurdity of it all. Some things happen which would feel totally unrealistic if I read it as a headline, but through these performances, it becomes believable enough that the plot isn’t taking anything away from the other elements of the film.

loud and clear reviews Biosphere 2023 film mark duplass sterling k brown
Sterling K. Brown as “Ray” and Mark Duplass as “Billy” in Mel Eslyn’s Biosphere (Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films release.)

Biosphere feels sort of allegorical, but it’s hard to understand what it is trying to get at. Since it is the end of the world, and there are only two people left on Earth, there has to be some deeper subtext to what we are seeing on screen. However, I couldn’t understand what the argument was, or what a lot of plot elements meant on a big-picture scale. This made the film feel a little forgettable by the time the credits rolled. I kept waiting for something to happen which would make me realize what Biosphere was really about, or put all the pieces together, but that never came.

Biosphere is still quite an entertaining watch. For taking place in a single space for the whole film, it never feels too slow or claustrophobic. Watching these two great actors play off one another never gets old either. The score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans is definitely one of the film’s biggest highlights as well, keeping the mystery and subtle intensity alive. Even though I feel that Biosphere could have had a stronger message, it is still worth a watch for these elements alone. This is such a weird story in the best way, and supporting films like these will only allow more unique storytellers to gain a stronger voice, which is vital for the future of cinema.

Biosphere opens in US theaters nationwide and on demand on July 7, 2023, via IFC Films.

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