Review by Camden Ferrell
Biosphere may very well be one of the most creative movies of the year. It had its premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival and serves as the feature film debut of director Mel Eslyn. Written by Eslyn and Mark Duplass, the latter of whom also stars in the film and produced it, this movie blends post-apocalyptic sci-fi, buddy comedy, and profound human insight in a way like no other film has before.
It’s the future, and Billy and Ray are best friends, and they are also the final two men on Earth. Ray is a brilliant man who has designed a dome for them to live in, one that could sustain life when the world around them no longer could. This movie follows them as they pass each day in their unique habitat while having the future of humanity resting on their shoulders. It’s a highly original premise, and it’s one that takes full advantage of its potential, creating a story full of ambitious narrative choices.
With a cast of only two people in a single location, there is very little room for the writing to falter. Eslyn and Duplass’ script is pleasant and feels reminiscent of a stage play. Minimal in execution but maximal in thematic scope, they brilliantly blend casual dialogue with more urgent messages of humanity. There is the occasional scene that may drop the ball with its ambitious choices, but even when it falls short, it’s still admirable.
A movie like this couldn’t possibly work without two fantastic leading men, and that is exactly what was delivered. Led by Duplass and Sterling K. Brown, this is more than anything, a showcase for their individual acting abilities as well as their undeniable chemistry. They treat the subject with the earnestness it deserves while also playing well into the buddy comedy style interactions present. It’s a delicate blend, but both men handle it exquisitely.
It’s a daring choice to make this your feature film debut, and it pays off for Eslyn. She knows exactly how to execute these scenes to make them engaging while also properly dealing with the more creative choices that the film makes. It truly is a unique experience that doesn’t go where you expect and that subversion works to the film’s benefit greatly.
Biosphere is one of those movies that is far from perfect yet has no major shortcomings. It’s ambitious, elegantly written, insightful, tightly paced, and expertly acted. It will make you laugh, wince, and ponder the nature of humanity and what it means to keep going on. Brown and Duplass are fascinating to watch, and they help boost an already strong movie to be one of the year’s most memorable films.
Biosphere is in theaters July 7.