Two people look at each other in dim blue light. The person on the right tenderly holds the face of the person on the left.

Film Review: Infinite Sea

Film Reviews

Infinite Sea
Director: Carlos Amaral

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Streaming: 3.24

Science fiction as a whole examines where we are now through the lens of where we might one day steer ourselves, storytelling at the intersection of technology and philosophy. The very best science fiction, however, explores how philosophy and advancing technology impact people emotionally. By presenting  big ideas through its focused and intimate scope, Portuguese director Carlos Amaral’s debut feature Infinite Sea is a story operating on all three of those axes.

Two people are stuck on a languishing Earth as humanity gradually leaves to colonize a distant planet. Miguel (Nuno Nolasco) lives alone, surrounded by computers and not much else. He hacks into databases to check lists of people who’ve been approved to leave Earth. He composes music on a synthesizer. He dreams of himself and a woman he has not yet met, Eva (Maria Leite), floating underwater. One day they meet at a pool, and they take comfort in each other as some of the few inhabitants of a lonely, dwindling planet.

Infinite Sea’s world is not so much retro-futuristic as it is simply decaying: boxy and cluttered with dusty CRT screens in front of chipping paint and wood paneling. It’s reminiscent of late ’70s sci-fi such as Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, evoking a similarly haunting and empty atmosphere. In an early scene, Miguel struggles with a finicky and ancient coffee machine while a TV ad implores viewers to apply for the colonial exodus to Proxima Centauri. It’s a clear line between the aspirational and the obsolete: For the ones leaving, it’s a glimmering space capsule. For those staying, it’s a busted coffee maker. 

It’s all indicative of a world and humanity in its twilight. Of the people remaining on Earth, Miguel remarks “I think we are an outdated project, and they are …” Eva answers, “The future?” The two bond over the sense that they’re among the last ones in the house, keeping the lights on for those who will never return. In this sense, Infinite Sea operates in stinging parallel to real-world cities and communities left abandoned due to war, man-made ecological disaster and rapidly changing climate. When most of us have left, the film asks, is this still our home or has home gone with them?

It’s a thoughtful debut from Amaral, one that fills in the emotional cracks too often left empty in speculative and science fiction. Where so much sci-fi asks “What would this mean for humanity?” Infinite Sea asks, “What would this mean for a human?” –Daniel Kirkham

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