‘Panorama With Invisible Hand’ overview: Asante Blackk shines in tender sci-fi journey

Overlook the alien invasion of sneaky infiltration or bombastic bombings of nationwide landmarks. Panorama With Invisible Hand unfurls a science fiction story that performs out extra like an unnerving but amusing extraterrestrial gentrification.

Think about a not-so-distant future during which alien overlords have descended. However fairly than conquering or catering to politicians, they purchased out humanity by teaming up with companies, promising new tech and new heights of standing. Particularly: picturesque utopias that hover over Earth’s floor and deal with every thing beneath like a dump website. The dumped-upon world beneath is the place Panorama With Invisible Hand paints a coming-of-age story that’s uniquely entrancing and thrillingly unpredictable.


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What’s Panorama With Invisible Hand about? 

Credit score: Lynsey Weatherspoon / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Footage Inc.

Tailored by M.T. Anderson’s novel of the identical title, Panorama With Invisible Hand facilities on Adam Campbell (Asante Blackk), a Black American teenager scraping by on an Earth now run by an alien race generally known as Vuvv. Whereas these dwelling in a actually elevated model of gated communities relish improvements and wealth, these beneath — just like the Campbell household — are scraping by as thousands and thousands of jobs are made out of date by Vuvv know-how. Adam and his lawyer mother (Tiffany Haddish) scavenge for any work they will discover, whereas his little sister tries rising her personal meals, sick of the nutrient-rich however unappetizing cubes which have grow to be commonplace for lower-class households. However their lives change perpetually when Adam falls in love.  

Inside hours of being beguiled by new child at school Chloe Marsh (Kylie Rogers), Adam has advised she and her unhoused household transfer into his basement. Tensions rise between two households crowded beneath the identical roof. However there’s a reprieve when Chloe and Adam resolve to show their budding romance right into a dwell stream for the aliens’ leisure. These “courtship broadcasts” give the Vuvv — who produce asexually and don’t have any idea of romantic relationships — a vicarious thrill. For the Marsh and Campbell households, this implies large bucks, monetary safety, and actual meals. However how can younger love stand up to not solely the prying eyes of alien gawkers but additionally the stress to help their households by way of a futuristically intrusive model of actuality TV? 

Panorama With Invisible Hand elegantly tells a sophisticated sci-fi story. 

Tiffany Haddish and Asante Blackk converse in "Landscape With Invisible Hand."

Credit score: Lynsey Weatherspoon / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Footage Inc.

Author/director Corey Finley, who received reward for the teenager thriller Thoroughbreds, mindfully sprinkles particulars round this character-centered drama. As an illustration, fairly than an aggressive information montage concerning the alien invasion, the progress of it’s depicted over the opening credit by way of paintings by Adam. A crayon drawing right here, a pencil sketch there; every particulars Earth earlier than after which after the Vuvv appeared. All through the movie, delicate chapter breaks are created by close-ups of his work. Every drawing not solely pulls focus to a second that was profound for our protagonist, but additionally elegantly explores his rising understanding of this world and his position in it. Whereas Adam could battle to speak how he feels in phrases, his drawings converse volumes. 


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As for the Vuvv, an academic video in school performs to clarify to us and the scholars who they’re and customarily what their deal is. Nonetheless, it’s swiftly revealed to be cheerful propaganda that ruthlessly ignores the widespread poverty and despair their world buyout has brought about.

Pockets of this affect pop up in informal conversations about 3D-printed meat, a area of particles that features discarded lacrosse sticks, and the shrug {that a} publicly carried out suicide elicits. The second act will showcase sci-fi spectacles like spaceships, shiny tech, and even the mysterious Vuvv, who’re precisely described as wanting like “gooey espresso tables.” To Finley’s credit score, the common-or-garden finances of his movie doesn’t detract from the tangibility of those out-of-this-world components. Nonetheless, that is firmly tender sci-fi. So the aliens and their tech — whereas intriguing — are usually not the purpose. That is all about Adam. 

Asante Blackk stands robust as a number one man.

Asante Blackk and Kylie Rogers hang out in 'Landscape With Invisible Hand.'

Credit score: Lynsey Weatherspoon / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Footage Inc.

With this bustling backdrop of alien invasion, human tragedy, exploitation, first loves, creative inspiration, and households in battle, Panorama With Invisible Hand is unapologetically a couple of younger Black man discovering himself in a world plagued by adversity. Whether or not at residence or in school, together with his girlfriend, his household, or a Vuvv who’s enjoying vacationer, Adam is repeatedly challenged to find out his personal values and price. Will he be just like the neurosurgeon who left their vocation behind to grow to be a Vuvv chauffeur? Will he threat being ostracized by rebelling towards the Vuvv’s calls for for feel-good leisure? What does it imply to thrive versus survive in a world the place the haves deal with the have-nots as novelty? 

Blackk, who’s beforehand appeared in such heralded exhibits as This Is Us and When They See Us, shoulders the load of those worries with a strong stance and shiny eyes. Even when Adam is confused, Blackk’s gaze cries out concerning the stress, the ache, and even the enjoyment that collides in Adam’s journey. Rogers matches him as Chloe, a bubbly ingenue when the Vuvv are watching who slides right into a strained stance of angst after they’re not — when she may be actual, and actually apprehensive. Haddish brings some smirking humor as a no-nonsense mother, whereas Josh Hamilton — as Chloe’s determined dad — gamely performs the idiot as demanded (by the film and the Vuvv). Altogether, the ensemble forged crafts a world that feels eerily acquainted, even with the slimy extraterrestrials popping as much as trigger complications and societal shudderings. 

The intriguing sci-fi particulars that Finley drops like breadcrumbs lead us into the curious journey in Panorama With Invisible Hand. The performances floor the heartache that thrums at its core, whereas theremin music trembles in its rating, giving a way of vulnerability and alien audio. However maybe what’s most exhilarating about Finley’s newest is that — except you’ve learn the guide — there’s no option to predict what may come subsequent or the place Adam may go. The longer term could appear bleak, however its specifics really feel wildly — enthrallingly — unsure.

So, we glance to the drawings dropped alongside the way in which to get a way of what’s to come back. Correctly, Finley doesn’t go away us with simple solutions. He does, nonetheless, go away us with a tender sci-fi gem that’s unbelievable, enjoyable, and thrillingly fucked up. 

Panorama With Invisible Hand opens in theaters Aug. 18. 

UPDATE: Aug. 11, 2023, 4:51 p.m. EDT Panorama With Invisible Hand was reviewed out of its world premiere at Sundance 2023. The overview has been republished to rejoice the movie’s theatrical launch.