For decades, Science Fiction films have been used to examine almost every aspect of society and humanity. Mel Eslyn’s “Biosphere” uses its “Silent Running” tinged Sci-Fi surroundings to probe the insights of male friendship, and the perceptions of masculinity, sexuality, and gender fluidity.
Sterling K. Brown and Mark Duplass (Two of the best actors in today’s Independent Film arena) star as perhaps the only two people left on Earth.
Billy (Duplass) used to be President of the United States and may have caused the incident that began the near destruction of mankind. Ray (Brown) is Billy’s lifelong friend and a scientist who created a self-sustaining bio-dome for them to live in and conduct experiments to possibly save humanity.
Ray controls and examines the ecosystem that keeps the two men alive, the most important being two fish (named Sam and Diane). One of the fish dies, becoming a catalyst for a series of events that will challenge the two men’s perception of their place in one another’s lives and in the universe.
As a strange green light in the sky gets closer to the facility, biological happenings begin to alter the course of Billy and Ray’s lives and challenge their existing sexual identities.
As one of their bodies begins to change, Billy and Ray are confronted with previously unimaginable possibilities to save the human race and begin again.
Written by Eslyn and Duplass, “Biosphere” is not a stereotypical “Bro-Comedy” where sex and gender are the butt of offensive humor. The screenplay is smart and interesting, giving warmth to the ever-changing dynamics of the lead characters’ relationship.
Brown and Duplass prove themselves the perfect combination for this two-character piece. Each actor’s combined talents give Billy and Ray’s relationship a lived-in feel. The audience believes these men have known one another since childhood.
Eslyn is clever in his direction. The filmmaker allows for the personalities of his two characters to breathe, never drawing attention to the Sci-Fi attributes of the story. Once the screenplay’s deeper probing of gender “norms” reveals itself, Eslyn and his two leads have fun with the presentation.
In one of the film’s most delightful moments, the two men dance around and the picture dissolves into a sweet montage previously found in a Romantic Comedy. The sequence doesn’t play goofily but induces smiles and brings out the geniality of the piece.
This is not to say the film isn’t serious. Eslyn, Duplass, and Brown take a thoughtful look at important subjects that are spearheading the inclusive America of today.
While some of the picture’s events are indeed strange, this is not satire. This is an ambitious project that finds a natural humor dictated by character rather than plot points. The improbabilities play well due to the commitment of the actors and the dedicated sincerity of the script.
“Biosphere” is a unique little character piece with something important to say. This is a film that speaks to our times and sends out messages of inclusion and hope that are strong and from the heart.
Written by Mark Duplass & Mel Eslyn
Directed by Mel Eslyn
Starring Stering K. Brown & Mark Duplass
NR, 106 Minutes, Duplass Brothers Productions/IFC Films