FILM | VIVARIUM CAUGHT IN A TRAP
Nikki Baughan catches up with actor Imogen Poots about her role in Lorcan Finnegan’s timely sci-fi thriller Vivarium
B oth surrealist and extremely relatable – perhaps even more so in the current coronavirus climate – Lorcan Finnegan’s sci-fi thriller Vivarium sees an ambitious young couple becoming trapped in seemingly perfect domesticity. After going to view a house on a sprawling estate, Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) realise they cannot leave; food deliveries are left outside their new ‘home’, all escape attempts prove futile. When one day a baby is delivered, with the ominous message ‘Raise the child and be released’, the trap is complete.
For Poots, who has made a career playing women who challenge the norms in films like Green Room and Fright Night, Vivarium offered a unique opportunity to confront issues of on-screen femininity – traditional gender roles, the burden of motherhood – and be a part of a truly exciting piece of independent filmmaking. She spoke to The List about the experience.
Vivarium is a striking film; did you have an immediate connection to the material and the character? It came by way of a script and, it was such a unique piece. That something like this would even have finance in this day and age, with a relatively unknown filmmaker, was really interesting to me. So [Lorcan and I] met up for coffee and spoke about the script a little bit, but mainly about films we both love. I always think that’s a great gateway into someone else’s vision, what turns them on creatively. So we spoke about Shane Carruth’s Upstream Colour, we spoke about the Japanese film Woman In The Dunes. And of course we spoke about what the film represented to us, and what questions it asked. The narrative speaks to so many things: the housing crisis, gender roles, motherhood. Was there something in particular that resonated with you? The ideas were right there from the beginning to explore. And as you’re making the film, you’re learning more about the character and the ideas unfold. What if you don’t want children? What is this ‘one size fits all’ society? I really connected with that. Even though where Tom and Gemma are is hell, it could feasibly also be paradise because it’s such a passive ennui, and that’s what we seem to want. This luxury of your food being delivered and cable television and a child – the whole set-up seems idyllic. When a film like this comes along, you just jump at it because it’s so ‘other’. It allows you to explore the politics of film; as an actor, what does your
72 THE LIST 1 Apr–31 May 2020