Native review – Daniel Fitzsimmons’s first feature is a disappointing and derivative sci-fi


Daniel Fitzsimmons’s first feature is a disappointing and derivative sci-fi

Playing like a student short stretched beyond its natural limits to a feature running time, Daniel Fitzsimmons’s directorial debut is a slice of sci-fi silliness whose failings can’t be blamed on its low budget. For a story concerned with exploring the furthest reaches of both space and the human mind, Native is both derivative and bland.

On a hazy, indeterminate planet populated by logical, entirely dispassionate human-like beings collectively known as ‘the Hive’, two sets of twin scientists are chosen to head a mission to track down and colonise the source of intercepted music. Cane (Rupert Graves) and Eva (Ellie Kendrick) head out into space, staying in touch with their siblings, and mission control, via their advanced telepathy. When a tragedy back home sends Cane spiralling into an increasingly emotional state, Eva’s initial revulsion develops into feelings of empathy and guilt that put their entire mission into jeopardy.

For such an advanced race, Cane and Eva inhabit an extremely stripped back environment; the cold stone and sharp lines of the ship are clearly meant to indicate a society evolved beyond a primitive human need for comfort, and to be at odds with Cane’s psychological breakdown, but are rather reminiscent of an old Doctor Who episode. That’s no bad thing in itself, of course, but paired with an insipid story and misused cast, there’s simply nothing with which an audience can connect, either visually or narratively.

Native‘s main problem, however, is that it is desperately dull. While the lofty dialogue suggests ambitious ideas – ‘You must depart into stranded night,’ intones Pollyanna McIntosh’s colony leader – there are endless shots of Cane and Eva wandering round the ship, playing with unexplained technology and eating black goop. Nothing happens, nothing is explained and, even as the pair’s developing emotions render their relationship more complex and their final actions reveal themselves, the drama simply never takes off.

Selected release from Fri 23 Feb.

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