TL;DR – An emotional journal to find safety in a world that has fallen into disaster.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this film.
Finch Review –
One genre I have always found interesting is that of the lone survivor. Why they were left alone could be from them being forgotten, marooned, left behind, well, anything. Fighting against the elements and even time to survive. Indeed, Tom Hanks is famous for playing a similar situation in Cast Away, so you knew it had to be an exciting premise to get him back into this realm.
So to set the scene, in the not-so-distant future, a solar flare wiped away Earth’s ozone layer exposing the globe to a massive surge of radiation and also setting off a global EMP. This baked the planet, killing nearly all the plants, animals, and of course, humans. One of the last people alive is Finch (Tom Hanks), who has survived in St Louis in the basement of the robotics company he worked at. He has one mission, to finish building Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones) an android, so there would be someone to look after Goodyear/Dog (Seamus) after he was gone. Things were going well until a supercell arrived. It will last for over 40 days, 40 days too long. So they all have to make a trip across the country to safety.
There is a real odd tone with this film in that there is this deep undercurrent of sadness underneath everything. A sorrow not from the fact that literally, everyone else is dead, but that it is apparent very early on that Finch is dying. Everything in this film is a last-ditch effort on his part to provide a future for Dog. So even when you are having humorous moments between Finch and Jeff, this undercurrent is always here. There would generally be extreme tonal whiplash in films like this. The fact that there is not stemmed from a lot of work from a lot of people across the runtime of the whole movie coming together.
Where this film works, the best is in its intimacy. For all intents and purposes, there are only ever three characters in the movie. This means the film has nowhere to hide, but because of this, they make every moment work. Tom and Caleb work effortlessly together in this odd mentor/mentee, creation/creator, father/son, dynamic. There is a bond both in the good and the bad which feels genuine, and this bond comes from performances that immediately feel right. This is supported by the writing of Goodyear, creating a dog that was probably more intelligent than the norm. All of these features come together to make a film of incredible emotional depth.
To bring all the animatronics to life, the film uses a combination of puppetry and what I assume was mo-cam work for Jeff. Caleb and the effects team’s work to bring Jeff to life was essential for this film to work. They had to balance his very human features and his very non-human features to create something that was both believable while also avoiding the uncanny valley. This lets the performances shine and enables the emotion to hit hard. Also, a shout out to the design of Dewey, who was a perfect choice for the film.
Another facet I liked about the film was the show don’t tell nature of a lot of the story. You know that something is wrong with Finch before anything is mentioned because of what books he chose to prioritise being uploaded into Jeff. Or from that one can of peaches in the fridge. Then there is the event itself. Even a comedic moment of popping popcorn on a tin lid in full sunlight is used to tell more about this world. Finch is a film that leans into that visual storytelling method that I particularly like.
In the end, do we recommend Finch? Absolutely. Indeed, this is only our second 5-star film this year. I am not sure this film will be for everyone, but it hit me deep in the emotional core. Good visual design, supporting superb performances, and a tight narrative makes it one of the films of the year for me. If you liked Finch, I would recommend to you A Quiet Place.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Finch
Directed by – Miguel Sapochnik
Written by – Craig Luck & Ivor Powell
Music by – Gustavo Santaolalla
Cinematography by – Jo Willems
Edited by – Tim Porter
Production/Distribution Companies – Amblin Entertainment, Reliance Entertainment, Walden Media, ImageMovers, Misher Films & AppleTV+
Starring –Tom Hanks, Caleb Landry Jones, Seamus & Emily Jones
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: na; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13