David Bowie’s “Lazarus” is a spiritual successor to Walter Tevis’ sci-fi novel “The Man Who Fell to Earth”. At its core, “Lazarus” is a two-hour meditation on grief and lost hope, but it takes so many wild, fantastical, eye-popping turns that it never drags.
The plot centers on Newton (Dexter’s Michael C. Hall), an alien who lives a miserable, reclusive life ever since he shunned his human ex-lover and was experimented on by the government. His last attempt to build a spaceship to return to his home planet – where his family is – was foiled.
Now, the morose martian spends his days subsisting on cereal, staring at a television, and getting drunk on gin. His assistant, Elly (Fargo’s Cristin Milioti), struggles with her marriage at home and subsequently finds herself increasingly attracted to her boss. Also, a cherubic, mysterious girl (Sophia Anne Caruso) appears and devotes herself to helping Newton escape, while a sinister stranger named Valentine (Michael Esper) lurks in the shadows.
The set was also minimalist: an unmade bed, a refrigerator, a record player, and a giant television. Behind glass windows, seven musicians played the soundtrack. The music proved to be a huge highlight of the experience.
Some subplots – such as Valentine stalking an attractive couple – felt less than essential to the story. Non-sequitur scenes, such as a bizarre moment when Newton is confronted by a geisha character, seemed to indicate that the protagonist exists outside of our perception of time and space. Director Ivo van Hove also further promoted this concept by sleek, layered scenes where Newton observed multiple plotlines occur simultaneously.
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