The dreamy-eyed boy that we see in Landscape with Invisible Hand is the character of Adam Campbell, played by Asante Blackk. His character has been portrayed as that of a rebellious artist who resents the rules set by the Vuvvs through his paintings in a non-aggressive way. The very first conflict with the Vuvvs is identified when he looks at the clear sky to find a subject to paint but is disappointed because the Vuvvs are parking their floating sphere over their house, blocking his view. The movie is based on a science fiction novel written by M.T. Anderson, bringing us to terms with a futuristic view of our world in 2036. We have seen a similar futuristic dystopian worldview in the series Black Mirror.
The empathetic nature of Adam has also been brought out when he lets one of his classmates, Chloe, and her family live in their basement after they lose everything to the Vuvvs. He gets involved in a “Broadcast Courtship” with Chloe to help her out financially, as the Vuvvs would pay to watch human romance. The coldness of Chloe in the relationship and forced romance, however, make him move on eventually. The free-spirited Adam has not been able to adapt himself to the living standards set by the Vuvvs or to think of his own race as inferior to them. The paintings of Adam enhance the beauty of human imperfections and simplicity, along with the reality of transience in our lives. The film rings with the concept of the introduction of a capitalist society in America and the way that it has altered the lives of the middle and lower strata of the population.
Adam’s Resentment towards the Vuvv’s Way of Life
The world around Adam changes slowly as the Vuvvs take over the economy and education, affecting the lives of the common people. The curriculum is being changed slowly to feed the students with the Vuvv language and other courses associated with Vuvv standards of living. Adam is clearly shown to be disappointed by the changes around him. Landscape with Invisible Hand begins with a montage of the paintings of Adam, showing the difference in the scenarios before and after the Vuvv takeover. Adam’s observant nature at such a young age is evident as he portrays the happy and normal lives of the people before the “first contact” and the despondency of the people after. He is empathetic enough to help the people around him. Despite his mother’s disapproval of Chloe’s staying in her basement, Adam says that he would help all the people in need if they had enough space. His life changes after he decides to jump into a broadcast romance with Chloe to earn money from the Vuvvs. Being a free-spirited artist, he falls out of the unnatural and forced love affair, and they start faking it. When the changes in their relationship are noticed by the Vuvvs, they receive a legal notice of deception.
Adam tells his mom that he would want to fight the Vuvvs legally, but later agrees to his mom’s advice when she says that he cannot win against them by force. When his mother comes up with the solution to marry a Vuvv, he revolts and is unable to come to accept it as his father. He likes spending time with humans rather than impressing the Vuvv, even if that means risking his house and other belongings. He is not able to develop false bonds with others and has a very strong personality, which sets his character apart from everyone else. Chloe’s brother is seen shaving off his eyebrows in order to get a suitable job in the Vuvv world, but on the contrary, Adam does not want to impress the Vuvvs and paints to express his own emotions. He does not shun his father when he returns home, as he seems to prioritize his familial bonds. He is not able to tell his father that his mother is now married to a Vuvv to save them from going bankrupt. He prioritizes the bonds that he shares with his family and, hence, does not hold any grudge against his father for abandoning them.
Adam’s world is torn apart when he hears that they are no longer supposed to go to school. While other students seem to be delighted about not having to go to school, Adam seems to be depressed. His realization of how their lifestyle is being snatched away from them dawns upon him, and he engages in painting a mural on one of the walls of his school. The piece is beautiful and attracts the attention of the Vuvvs, who want to buy it and hire Adam as an artist for their realm. He initially accepts their offer and explains his artwork to them in simple language. He tells them how the mural depicts the huge loss faced by humans after the Vuvvs arrived, but how there has been a lot of struggle that has been overcome with time. He states that the mural is his monument to human resilience.
Adam travels to the Vuvv realm after being hired by them and has a meltdown about how his artwork has been ripped out of its original place and altered by them. Anything beautiful is seen to be erased from the face of the earth by the Vuvvs, as though they are snatching away the originality of the human race. The entire meaning of his artwork is shown to have been edited to suit their own agenda. The struggle of the human race to adapt to the Vuvv lifestyle and their way of coping with it have been completely altered in the painting by the Vuvvs. When he is asked to say a few lines about the work, he is unable to express anything as the meaning of the painting has been changed completely in their favor. He comes back to his home and apologizes for his failed attempt at becoming a renowned artist in the Vuvv realm. He is unable to pretend to impress the Vuvvs despite reaching the dream position, craved by many. The imposed idea of making his own race look barbaric in front of the Vuvvs did not sit well with the young artist. He created art not to make anyone look inferior but to depict the coexistence of humans and Vuvvs.
Adam is symbolic of a subjugated person in a capitalistic world, and the lens through which he sees the world helps us understand the strata division within society. The artistic lens of Adam brings a dash of color to the mundane human lives in Landscape with Invisible Hand. The ability to see and interpret the world in his own way is a form of rebellion that has been a driving force for Adam. The character of Adam is flat and does not have upheavals throughout the movie. His thoughts do not change with the course of his actions and are quite uncomplicated. He keeps to himself and fuels his own creative spirit by observing things minutely. He does not portray fake emotions, unlike other characters, and is ready to take up any challenge to eradicate any threats to his family or friends. The fact that he does not expect anything in return or does not give up on his passion for painting even after being cast away from the Vuvv realm makes his character stand out. He makes us proud by setting forth on his creative journey to create yet another masterpiece, the Landscape with Invisible Hand. However, despite being a character full of hope, the bland expressions of Adam do not evoke any sense of hope for a better future among the audience. We are left wondering if there will be any end to human suffering and can only hope for a second part with a better ending and appropriate character casting.