EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, films like Foe might not exist.
If any lessons can be learned from the immense success of Barbie and Oppenheimer this summer of 2023, it’s that audiences will still flock to theaters for a talented cast/crew combined with sharp conceptual film making. Garth Davis’s Foe looks to follow that successful formula. Based on the 2018 Ian Reid novel of the same name, this science-fiction thriller features Academy Award nominees Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal as a married couple who will be put to the test by extraordinary circumstances. After its debut at the New York Film Festival, Amazon Studios will release Foe theatrically in the United States on October 6, 2023.
Foe‘s trailer places Junior (Paul Mescal) and his wife Henrietta (Saoirse Ronan) living a fairly mundane life on a secluded farm in the dystopian future of 2065. An uninvited stranger named Terrance (Aaron Pierre) shows up and offers a grand proposal to the couple: Junior will be tasked with working in an orbiting space station while his presence at home will be occupied by a robotic version of himself. However, complications soon heighten the dramatic tension as the couple’s marital issues are highlighted throughout.
“I need to have an intimate understanding of your marriage—the good and the bad,” says Terrance, establishing a key conflict for the film, much of which is interpersonal melodrama. Junior and Hen both dream of bigger things in life. Junior looks to the sky and thinks of what is possible in space. Hen, who appears multiple times in the trailer looking depressed, is searching for her own happiness and whether it can be found in her current marriage.
The trailer establishes contrasting visual imagery. Mátyás Erdély composes vast landscapes of a dusty Australia, along side shots of sleek and shiny sci-fi space metallics. The trailer combines diegetic sound of a piano note with cues triggering dramatic action. Junior and Hen fight in the rain, Junior fires a gun at a departing space shift, and a ranch burns in the dead of night.
Saoirse Ronan is a four-time Oscar-nominated actor known for her dedication to the craft with dynamic performances in period pieces Atonement, Brooklyn, Ladybird, and Little Women. Joining her as co-lead and Foe‘s and narrator is rising star Paul Mescal, coming off an Oscar nomination of his own for 2022’s Aftersun and who is also starring in the anticipated Gladiator 2 sequel directed by Ridley Scott. Australian director and co-writer Garth Davis is known best for his multi-Oscar nominated 2016 film Lion and Hungarian cinematographer Erdély for shooting the 2015 Best Foreign Language film Son of Saul.
With Davis helming two the well-established Ronan and the up-and-coming Mescal in a known property, Foe looks to mix sci-fi and melodrama for an intriguing October awards-season debut.