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Vivarium Earns Positive Reviews Following World Premiere at Cannes Film Festival
20 May 2019 : Nathan Griffin
Jesse Eisenberg & Imogen Poots in 'Vivarium'.
Lorcan Finnegan’s Irish Sci-Fi film ‘Vivarium’ has received a positive reaction from critics following its world debut in competition as part of Critics’ Week (La Semaine de la Critique) over the weekend.

The film is competing for two prizes given by La Semaine de la Critique’s Jury, which will be announced on Wednesday, May 22nd: the Nespresso Grand Prize for Best Film and the Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award for Best Actor or Actress.

‘Vivarium’ made its world premiere on Saturday, May 18th and saw Jesse Eisenberg in attendance alongside director Lorcan Finnegan. This is the second feature film from the Irish director following his 2016 debut ‘Without Name’, which received its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The film stars Imogen Poots (‘I Kill Giants’, ‘Sweet Virginia’) and Jesse Eisenberg (‘The Social Network’, ‘Café Society’) as a young couple who follow a mysterious estate agent and get trapped in a strange housing development. The film is scripted by Garret Shanley, who also wrote the script for Finnegan’s ‘Without Name’.

Stephen Dalton of The Hollywood Reporter described the film as reminiscent of “an extended episode of the hit Netflix series Black Mirror. It is a superior genre piece at heart, but elevated by its high-calibre leads Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg, plus a script rich in political and cultural resonance. There are echoes of cult sci-fi authors like JG Ballard and John Wyndham here, plus eye-pleasing nods to the surrealist art of Rene Magritte and MC Escher. Following its world premiere in the Critics’ Week section in Cannes, this Irish-Danish-Belgium co-production will likely find an eager ready-made audience at genre-friendly festivals and beyond, its commercial crossover potential boosted by a starry cast.”

He continued, “(it) remains a nerve-jangling, finely crafted thriller. More dark fairy tale than straight sci-fi puzzle, it never reveals all its secrets but still concludes on a satisfying note of symmetry. On the craft side, major credit is due to production designer Philip Murphy for creating such a striking suburban hellscape, as well as composer and sound designer Kristian Eidnes Andersen for maximizing the sonic unease. Vintage Jamaican ska music also serves as an agreeably sunny motif, its joyous energy increasingly ironic as the story darkens.”

Tim Grierson in Screen International stated that “the audience can quickly surmise which societal conventions are being satirised, but the preciseness of Finnegan’s pacing — and the uncertainty concerning what is going on — keeps the viewer in suspense. Just as important, Vivarium evolves over its short running time, springing surprises and revealing new layers to its commentary.”

‘Vivarium’ is a European co-production with Brendan McCarthy and John McDonnell producing for Dublin’s Fantastic Films along with Jean-Yves Roubin of Belgium’s Frakas Productions and Alexander Brøndsted of Denmark’s Pingpong Film, with XYZ Films executive producing and handling global sales.

‘Vivarium’ is supported by Screen Ireland, Creative Europe MEDIA, Wallimage, BE TV/ VooTV, the Danish Film Institute, the Copenhagen Film Fund, and Eurimages.

Public Screenings

  • Mon May 20, 16:30, Studio 13
  • Tues May 21 16:30, Theatre La Licorne

The 2019 Cannes Film Festival runs until Saturday, May 25th.




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