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After a while, stories about the hijinks on movie sets all begin to sound the same, but when Jake Abel (THE LOVELY BONES, PERCY JACKSON) mentioned that during the filming of THE HOST his co-star Frances Fisher had become a “chicken whisperer,” I have to admit that was something new. Rumor has it that she tweeted pictures of herself balancing poultry on her head and I can only hope that it’s true. It was an odd image, but THE HOST is a film that goes unexpected places with its premise of an alien parasitic race using human beings as unwilling hosts. The conversation turned philosophical almost at once, and threads of the metaphorical meaning of the film came up repeatedly, along with digressions about the snazzy Lotus automobiles that glide through the story, speculation on the next two books (and films) in the series, as well as the cave mentality the actors exhibited while filming on the massive cave sets. Hence chicken-whispering.
Abel and Max Irons (RED RIDING HOOD) (below right, picture taken by yours truly) were witty to be sure, as Irons proved by regaling us with the fact that putting contact lenses in his eyes makes him faint, but they were also thoughtful and thought-provoking as they pondered the meaning of being human, the theater of cruelty, and the necessity of tolerance.
THE HOST itself, based on the novel of the same name by Stephenie Meyer and directed from his own adaptation by Andrew Niccol (GATTACA, S1M0NE, LORD OF WAR), is a film that asks tough questions about morality and reason. Excellent performances, particularly from Saoirsie Ronan, (HANNA, ATONEMENT) (below) as both Melanie Stryder >and< the alien organism that has taken over Melanie’s body, elevate the film as much as the subtexts do. Few actresses of any age could make taking to herself seem so unremarkable. This is what the best speculative fiction does, make re-think assumptions and start looking at the world from a slightly different angle. Are peace, perfect health, and a healed environment worth giving up our humanity? And are creatures that mean well by taking that humanity absolved from their own assumptions?
Oh, and by the way, there’s a nifty love quadrangle that involves just three bodies.
To listen to my interview with Abel and Irons, click here.