A reclusive technology millionaire, a naive young programmer and a beautiful, artificially intelligent robot take on a twisted exploration into the age-old debate of man versus machine in the new film "Ex Machina."
Out in Australian theatres on May 7, the film is the work of first-time director and novelist Alex Garland and three up-and-coming actors, two of whom - Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson - went from "Ex Machina" to the set of the hotly anticipated "Star Wars" film.
Isaac plays arrogant CEO Nathan, who through a contest, selects his employee Caleb (Gleeson), to join him in his reclusive fortress to test an invention - a cyborg with a human face and artificial intelligence (AI).
The goal is to see if the cyborg Ava, played by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, demonstrates evolving intelligence, even if it is artificial.
"What's most interesting about trying to figure out AI is the questions that it forces you to ask about the nature of consciousness," Isaac told Reuters at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) where the film had its premiere last month.
As Caleb tries to determine Ava's intelligence, he finds himself drawn to her as she flirts with him and tells him not to trust the short-tempered Nathan.
For Gleeson, Garland "does not see the film as being anti-AI, or as being totally warning against the nature of what AI is." Rather, it delves into the complexity of man's relationship to technology.
Variety called Garland's debut "a sleek, spare chamber piece: Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' redreamed as a 21st-century battle of the sexes."