Solaris

99 minutes 2002

Though it's unacknowledged as such in the credits, Steven Soderbergh's SF movie—about a psychiatrist (George Clooney) who's sent to an abandoned space station to rescue an apparently insane crew and discovers that the planet materializes human forms based on the visitor's troubled memories, including his own of his dead wife (Natascha McElhone)—is a synopsized remake of Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 masterpiece of the same title. (Both are derived from a Stanislaw Lem novel, a source that's acknowledged here.) Missing is most of Tarkovsky's contemplative and mystical poetry (which is why it's 90 minutes shorter), and added are some unfortunate Hollywood-style designer flashbacks featuring Clooney and McElhone. The story is still strong and haunting, but I'd recommend seeing this, if at all, only after the Tarkovsky (out in an excellent DVD edition). With Viola Davis and Jeremy Davies (Spanking the Monkey, Saving Private Ryan), whose space-cadet intonations provide the only light moments. 99 min.

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