I can see why director Cory Finley wanted to adapt M.T. Anderson’s 2017 novel “Landscape with Invisible Hand” for the screen, because the audacious, original story lends itself well to the science fiction genre. His film is an ambitious (and morose) satire about commerce, class, art, truth, and the value of human beings, and it’s the most unpredictable thing I’ve seen in a long while. I had no idea where the story was going and could never have guessed where it ends up, which makes it feel even more innovative and exciting.
In the near future, an alien species known as the Vuvv has taken over Earth. The invasion has ruined the economy, and inhabitants are struggling. Deciding to capitalize on the alien’s obsession with human familial constructs and emotions (they find the concept of “true love” the most compelling), teenager Adam (Asante Blackk) and his girlfriend Chloe (Kylie Rogers) devise a scheme to make money by broadcasting their dates to a rabid Vuvv audience via a livestream. Their pay-per-view relationship is real at first, but then becomes mostly for show as the pair begin to hate each other. Breaking up is not an option, unless they want to bankrupt their families.
This project is very different from Finley’s previous films, and the tone is a bit of an acquired taste. Packed with bizarre humor that will definitely turn off some viewers, the film is part mainstream sci-fi and part midnight movie, with very complex themes. The story plays with class, race, and social status, culminating in a conundrum at the intersection of artistic integrity and runaway capitalism that’s both compelling and crazy.
There’s nothing quite like “Landscape with Invisible Hand.” What a bold, original work.
By: Louisa Moore