For his directorial debut, “Ex Machina,” novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland (“28 Days Later,” “Sunshine”) crafts a deceptively simple social comedy deeply invested in ideas about artificial intelligence, the nature of desire and the mind-body divide. But cheekily glib, oft-vulgar banter between its two male characters—a billionaire inventor (Oscar Isaac) and the so-bright employee/programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) he’s chosen for a one-man Turing Test—and a female robot (Alicia Vikander) that can flirt, think and scheme—likably mask the hoped-for profundity. (“Ex Machina” could have easily been called “The Imitation Game.”) Set largely in the rich man’s lair (shot at an actual hotel in the wilds of Norway), Garland also seduces with clean frames, sleek, elegant surfaces, and the most physically convincing of robots on screen in memory. Sentience is sexy! 110m. Widescreen. (Ray Pride)
“Ex Machina” opens Friday, April 17. A clip is below.