Movie Review: Annihilation [Netflix Spoilers]

Annihilation (2018) directed by Alex Garland
The Concept

I think I had a strange experience watching the film. Initially, I understood the message of the movie and its themes about "self destruction" from several reviews online and trailer.
The idea of "That which nourishes me also destroys me".
Clearly makes this movie about: Personal change. It's like Lena says at the end-- the Shimmer wasn't destroying, it was changing, making "something new". I started thinking about this concept during my second viewing when I realized just how strongly the film seems to revolve around her relationship with Kane. It starts out with "him" returning to her, and it ends with the two of them together, with all those intervening flashbacks. Obviously this movie ultimately wants to be about them and perhaps say something about the nature of relationships.

Before Kane goes into the Shimmer, their marriage is damaged -- she's having an affair and he knows about it. We see that they have a legitimate spark, but we know that something is broken. We see him distant, struggling with what to do. So he goes off on his quest of "self-destruction". But I think the Shimmer actually represents something more- a place people find themselves at times in their lives, a sort of mental purgatory where some kind of facing of fears and personal change is required in order to move on. Some kind of "self-destruction" might be a necessary part of that process, if one needs to shed parts of themselves that hold back progress. It also requires facing your anger and deepest anxieties. And like Josie says, some people when they encounter a stage of personal transformation, will be eager to face it, some will fight it, and some might just peacefully accept.

So here's how I see the events of the movie from a totally metaphorical standpoint: Kane goes off on his journey. He's so hurt, sad, and damaged that when he faces the possibility of drastically changing who he is, he yields to this impulse and allows the doppelganger to return in his place. He comes back to Lena but he's not the same man, and his new self is unstable, and too alien for her to accept. 

Image: Inside the light house, where the meteor fell.
His transformation has threatened to be their final separation. Lena feels responsibility for what has happened, and is now given a choice, and posed to her by Ventress at the base: she could retreat and "go home", abandoning Kane and their relationship. But she has given up her affair and resolved that she "want[s] to be with him", which will require her own journey of self-appraisal, facing down of fears, and transformation. So she sets out on her personal struggle as well, to face her lies, anxieties, and yearnings. When her turn comes to face the new person that threatens to take over her identity, she cannot accept it as readily, and mostly preserves her current self. But having resolved her internal struggle and committed to enough of this journey of transformation, she returns to Kane and accepts him in his current state. They embrace, having a shared experience and newfound understanding. It doesn't matter who either of them once were or is now-- they have accepted and forgiven the past and will move forward together.

People face all kinds of internal struggles and crises, and usually don't stay the way they were when we first met them. Staying committed to a relationship, or any endeavor in life, takes hard work, and asks that people take a hard look at themselves, decide which parts they can live with, and allow themselves to grow and change with each other. When times of struggle and transformation come, it's up to each individual how much to resist and struggle against change, and how much to accept it. Sometimes we don't have that much control over it. But at the end of the day, only through waging our own lonely internal battles can we understand and accept others as flawed and dynamic fellow human beings, and learn to move forward together, whether in a romantic relationship or otherwise.

In the End... 

And for the shimmer appearing in their eyes. If you have been through a period of self-destruction, you can often see it in the eyes of others who have been there too. This may sound silly to some but those experiences really do change one's character. One can often pick out others who have been down a similar path.
I think "annihilation" here refers to the annihilation of the broken past, or parts of the self, that is sometimes needed to move on constructively.
I'd rate this movie: ★★★★☆ 
Movie Review: Annihilation [Netflix Spoilers] Movie Review: Annihilation [Netflix Spoilers] Reviewed by Kanthala Raghu on March 12, 2018 Rating: 5

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