Archive is a British indie scifi drama written and directed by Gavin Rothery. Although Archive is Rothery’s debut feature, Rothery had collaborated – contributed design work – with Duncan Jones on Moon. Thus, there is a similar low budget sensibility about Archive but with the same attention to detail and first rate quality witnessed on Moon.
The film synopsis is straightforward – “2038: George Almore is working on a true human-equivalent AI. His latest prototype is almost ready. This sensitive phase is also the riskiest. Especially as he has a goal that must be hidden at all costs: being reunited with his dead wife.”
Almore (Theo James) is therefore our main character – a scientist who seeks (through his scientific endeavours) to bring his deceased wife Jules (Stacey Martin) back from the grave. This feat he hopes to achieve through advanced robotics and AI innovation. However, ARM – the company who is sponsoring his efforts is unaware of his plans and this subterfuge provides much of the conflict in the story.
Stylistically, Rothery and Archive owes much to the seminal scifi inspiration of Philip K Dick and Stanley Kubrick. With Dick, it’s the influence of the “half-life” cryonic suspension found in Ubik, echoed in the Archive system that allows the living to communicate with their dearly departed for a period of time. With Kubrick, it is of course the entire 2001 : A Space Odyssey vibe which was also present in Moon.
Almore’s robot companions J1 and J2 also hearken back to the classic 70s scifi movie, Silent Running. Rothery’s vision is austere but realistic even if the third act somewhat mirrored Alex Garland’s Ex Machina in terms of look and feel. But all in a very positive way, it must be emphasised.
Best of all, the story is wrapped up by a very satisfying denouement which is quite plainly the icing on the proverbial cake. Certainly, Gavin Rothery is a name to look out for in the years to come. Archive is not perfect by any means but there is enough promise in this debut feature for serious movie buffs to keep an eye on Rothery.
Archive is now streaming on Netflix.
… still there’s more …