Panorama With Invisible Hand evaluation: alien invasion meets monetary catastrophe

In Panorama With Invisible Hand, the alien invasion doesn’t incite violence or an all-out galactic battle: it screws up the financial system. The sci-fi flick from director Cory Finley, primarily based on a novel by M. T. Anderson, premiered at this yr’s Sundance Movie Competition. It takes place in a future the place an alien race has descended on Earth, bestowing superior expertise and the riches that include it — however just for the human elite. What follows is a considerably messy fable about capitalism and artwork, one that appears on the aftermath of an invasion somewhat than the occasion itself.

The film takes place within the 2030s, round 5 years after the arrival of the Vuuv, a complicated species that aren’t bodily intimidating — they appear to be raw turkeys and talk by scraping their flippers collectively — however nonetheless have managed to utterly shift the ability steadiness on Earth. They do that by their superior expertise that solely the very elite can afford entry to (and which, frustratingly, we truly see little or no of within the movie). However by the point Panorama With Invisible Hand is ready, they’re firmly entrenched. Wealthy people reside in hovering cities within the sky alongside the Vuuv, whereas everybody down on the floor is simply attempting to outlive.

The story facilities on Adam (Asante Blackk), a highschool pupil and budding artist; his work is even used as a intelligent storytelling device, with temporary montages of work that present the regular downfall of humanity in oils and acrylics. Early on, he meets a brand new child named Chloe (Kylie Rogers), whose household is one in all many struggling to get by. They don’t have a spot to remain, so Adam decides to fast-forward his crush on Chloe by inviting her household to reside in his basement. (Miraculously, his mom, performed by Tiffany Haddish, is barely mildly perturbed at this.)

A still photo of Asante Blackk and Kylie Rogers in the film Landscape With Invisible Hand.

Asante Blackk, Kylie Rogers, and an alien flipper in Panorama With Invisible Hand.
Picture: Sundance Institute

As each households wrestle with cash, Chloe comes up with an concept. She begins livestreaming her dates with Adam — one thing referred to as a “courtship broadcast” — and the Vuuv, who produce asexually and haven’t any idea of romantic love, can’t get sufficient. The tip cash turns into a primary supply of revenue but in addition stress; having to be on all the time, and make his love life so public, turns right into a degrading expertise for Adam.

Early on, Panorama With Invisible Hand does a implausible job of (no pun meant) portray an image of this alien-fuelled despair. The worldbuilding is refined and plausible; the youngsters scrounge round for rubbish thrown from the elite ships to promote, and the adults take actually any job they’ll. You see legal professionals working at meals vehicles, preeminent surgeons chauffeuring the Vuuv round, and later, issues get a lot weirder and extra disturbing. It’s mainly a heightened model of the wealth inequality that already exists, besides the actually wealthy don’t even reside on the floor anymore.

However because the story progresses, it will get just a little muddled. Chloe’s scheme will get the households sued by a really expert Vuuv lawyer, and the compromise they attain is like one thing out of a sitcom. There are some humorous moments, however the Vuuv work significantly better as a principally invisible pressure; like a horror film monster, they change into much less fascinating or intimidating the extra time you truly see them on display screen. That is very true as a result of it is a decidedly low-budget flick. The aliens appear to be background characters from Males in Black, and the remainder of the CG components aren’t any higher. Fortunately it’s used comparatively sparsely.

Messy because the film can get in its again half, it’s saved by some nice performances — Blackk appears like a star within the making, and Haddish is as charming as ever — and a heartwarming finale that makes one of the best of horrible scenario. It could be set sooner or later, however given the present state of the world, it’s an alien movie that may really feel all too human.

This evaluation relies on a screening on the 2023 Sundance Movie Competition. Panorama With Invisible Hand is due out someday this yr.