Rubikon (2022)

Director: Magdalena Lauritsch
Writer: Magdalena Lauritsch, Jessica Lind, Elisabeth Schmied
Cast: Julia Franz Richter, George Blagden, Mark Ivanir
Seen on: 16.9.2022

Hannah (Julia Franz Richter) and Gavin (Georve Blagden) are sent to the Rubikon, a space station floating above earth and home of the algae experiments of Dimitri Krylow (Mark Ivanir) – humanity’s hope to regain control of the air and the climate down on Earth. Hannah and Gavin are replacing some other crew members, but there is more to their reasons for coming to Rubikon. Shortly after they arrive though, something happens on Earth. Communication is lost and a fog covers more and more of the planet.

I was pretty excited for Rubikon: Austrian Science Fiction, made by a woman no less, and judging from the trailer it looked really good. And all of these things are definitely true, but I found the script a little underwhelming, leaving me not quite as excited about the film going out as I was going in.

The film poster showing Hannah (Julia Franz Richter) wearing a space suit. The Earth is reflected in her visor, with a red fog covering a lot of it.

Rubikon is set in a world that feels almost too real to be believable: nation states have been abandoned for corporate territories. Climate change has fucked everybody over. The rich still reign supreme, the poor still stand no chance. It’s a logical continuation of where we stand today and as such, there is a voice of disbelief. On the one hand, it feels like we have seen this so much already, and on the other, one kind of rebels against the thought that this development would go unchecked.

Above this world floats the Rubikon, but of course, it isn’t really above the politics of it. It belongs to a corporation and its interests. And each of the characters brings their own sociopolitical background as well. Unfortunately, that background is largely neglected by the film, one of the weaker narrative decisions.

Gavin (George Blagden), Hannah (Julia Franz Richter) and Dimitri (Mark Ivanir) bathed in red emergency light.

But it’s not the only part where I wished that the film had gone in a bit of a different direction. The film turns to a moral dilemma or what it thinks is a dilemma. But honestly, I didn’t understand how one of the two positions pitted against each other is morally tenable at all. That it is that decision that ultimately wins out and kind of turns to a happy end, left me very confused. Plus, the discussions just weren’t all that engaging, especially because the dialogue is often quite clunky.

With the central problem of the film not really speaking to me, the film started to feel long. There are nice character moments here and there, but the tensions between them also wasn’t enough to keep me fully engaged. And so I ultimately didn’t leave the cinema all too satisfied, although I still have to compliment the film on its looks and polished feel.

Hannah (Julia Franz Richter) working on the space station outside.

Summarizing: a good sign of life for Austrian genre cinema, but not as amazing as I’d hoped.

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