A still from Garth Davis' Foe (2023)

What is Garth Davis' Foe all about? Details explored 

The first looks and trailer of director Garth Davis' upcoming psychological thriller, Foe, created quite a stir recently. Featuring Oscar-nominated actors Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan in the lead roles of Junior and Henrietta, respectively, the film is an adaptation of Iain Reid's 2018 novel of the same name. Distributed by Amazon Studios, the film will have an October 6, 2023, US premiere.

While the movie was first announced officially in June 2021, with Garth Davis co-writing the screenplay alongside Iain Reid, the filming only began in January 2022 in Melbourne. Co-produced by Garth Davis, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, and Kerry Kohansky-Roberts, the shooting wrapped up in South Australia in April 2022.


As per Vanity Fair, the plot of the movie reads,

"The story begins with the arrival of a mystery man named Terrance who claims to be working with the government. He makes a proposal for Junior to leave home for several years to help pilot a space program that is intended to facilitate the transition away from life on a rapidly deteriorating Earth. "

It continues reading,

"Junior doesn’t want to go, but he’s told he must; Henrietta absorbs the news more carefully. There’s an extensive plan in place to watch over her while he’s away... Terrance eventually joins the pair at their home—interviewing them, hearing their secrets, and opening them up to startling visions of the future and grim truths of their past."


Garth Davis' Foe: Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan navigate through Ian Reid's fateful sci-fi fantasy world

Foe (2023) features a dream team, including Academy Award nominees Paul Mescal and Saoirse Ronan. This is a no-shocker since director Garth Davis has always strived to work on phenomenal projects with brilliant actors - himself receiving six Oscar nominations for his feature film directorial debut, Lion (2016).

Foe was conceptualized during the COVID pandemic after executive producer Kerry Kohansky-Robert acquired the first rights to the book. Garth Davis came on board next as he too was impressed by the apocalyptic novel, eager to work on its film adaptation. Soon after, Mescal and Ronan joined in the voyage, getting in the skin of their characters via long Zoom meetings, as reported by Vanity Fair.


The director-writer duo deliberated for months, expanding the story from being confined to the novel's limited claustrophobic setting, with all events occurring in a single house. The result was a cinematic wonder, showing glimpses of what the next few decades might hold for the planet, touching upon topics like artificial intelligence, corporate control, massive floods, fire, etc.


Talking about the experiment, Garth Davis said:

"We leaned into this idea of color with unnatural elements. It’s like a bleeding earth—canola fields that defy droughts, pink lakes, massive mega-industry tower farming.”

The transition of the novel brought a lot of changes in the intense storyline of Foe. When Reid first wrote it, he was primarily interested in exploring a long-term couple unbothered by small challenges. With the film, the storyline progresses to evaluate how the dynamics between the couple change by what the larger future might look like on Earth at both micro and macro levels.

While director Garth Davis touts the film as a wake-up call for those who take life for granted, only time can tell if Foe meets viewers' high-set expectations.

Foe will premiere at the 2023 New York Film Festival this September.


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