Cory Finley’s ‘Landscape with Invisible Hand’ is a sci-fi drama that premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. It stars Asante Blackk, Kylie Rogers, Tiffany Haddish, Josh Hamilton, Michael Gandolfini, and Brooklynn MacKinzie in the main roles. The script, written by the director and M. T. Anderson, blends a futuristic tragedy with some relevant humor. The story is set in a time alien species occupy the earth and dictate the ways of the world. Their inhumane bureaucracy leaves most of humans unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. During such dreadful times, two teenagers – Adam & Chloe, try to ensure their families’ futures. Spoilers ahead.

Landscape with Invisible Hand (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

What is ‘Landscape with Invisible Hand’ about?

‘Landscape with Invisible Hand’ is about two teenagers trying to better their families’ futures in a world occupied by a species of aliens. They quickly gain control over the lives of Earth-dwellers. The film begins with shots of multiple paintings by Adam Campbell (Asante Blackk). It shows his journey from a young age and how he experienced life in general. While he used to live with both his parents, his father (William Jackson Harper) left them years ago. So, his mother, Beth (Tiffany Haddish), took care of him and his sister, Natalie (Brooklyn MacKinzie), on her own. They can afford to have a house, unlike the majority that is unhoused.

Adam & Chloe

Adam works on his paintings and waits for just the right conditions. On the other hand, Natalie tries growing some ‘real food’ in their garden since they get everything from the aliens’ orbit. Suddenly, they both see an alien ship residential establishment over their house. They talk about its nuisance as if it’s a part of their daily life. Later in school, Adam and his classmates attend the final class of English lit. Teacher Mr Stanley (John Newberg). He is forced to retire since the aliens want humans to learn their Vuvv culture and history instead. Later, during their art class, Adam notices a new student in their class – Chloe Marsh (Kylie Rogers) and falls for her. Unlike his family, hers does not have a house and needs to keep moving every day.

The Visitors

After their first day together at school, Chloe and Adam witness a tragic accident. Right after the classes are over, Mr. Stanley shoots himself dead. It shocks all the students and also gives us an idea of the tragic situation humans must have caught up in this fictional world. Nevertheless, considering Chloe’s dire situation, he invites her family to come stay at their house. Chloe’s father (Josh Hamilton) thanks Beth for dinner, but her brother Hunter (Michael Gandolfini) is not grateful for this favor. He cribs about how they are not getting any real food. Meanwhile, Adam allows the Marsh family to stay in their basement as long as they want without asking Beth for permission. Adam does it as a way to be close to Chloe.

Adam’s Father

On the weekend, they both go to a dumping ground to look for a drop that can be useful to them. He opens up to her about his father, a real estate developer who got an offer to create a human housing for the aliens. But he refused it on account of their unfair terms. Instead, Mr. Campbell went to California, hoping to make a decent living. But he did not stay in touch with his family. While talking about him with Chloe, Adam draws her portrait. She understands that he is clearly attracted to her. Back home, right when they are about to kiss, Chloe’s father interrupts them. At the time, he was looking for his Q-tips. He subtly indicates his assumption that Adam took them, which rather reveals his subtle racism.

Nodes Broadcast

Later in school, Chloe decides to sell some of her stuff so that her family can pay rent to the Campbells. But she can hardly get anything sold. Adam is so in love that he is ready to even forgive the rent. But she offers another plan to earn some money. In their world, there’s a thing where humans can use their nodes to broadcast their lives to aliens. That way, they can earn some money. Since Aliens procreate only as their function without any feeling, they consider ‘human romantic love’ as something ‘peculiar.’ So, she asks if Adam would like to partner up with her. He finds the idea of someone peeking into their love life awkward. Instead, he would prefer it to develop more naturally. But she ultimately manages to convince him.

Adam and Chloe start developing their romantic relationship while broadcasting it to the aliens. Meanwhile, their families get into an argument about boundaries. When Beth had gone out for some work, Hunter and his father used her computer without asking her for permission. Beth scolds them both for not keeping any sense of boundaries. Even if he is in the wrong, Mr. Marsh feels bad that Beth insulted him in front of his son. He feels emasculated and hurt that a black woman corrected him. When Beth argues back, Mr. Marsh points out that he is paying rent. Their heated argument results in some house rules. After that, both families start having dinner separately. Still, that does not negate Hunter’s absolute arrogance.

The Lawsuit

Landscape with Invisible Hand (2023) Movie Ending Explained
Asante Blackk and Kylie Rogers in Landscape with Invisible Hand (2023)

The argument between their families creates a rift between Chloe and Adam. They cannot concentrate on their broadcast, which results in a low number of viewers. Soon after, they get a letter from the broadcasting commission, suing them. So, they enter the international air space to meet the alien in charge. This creature accuses them of deceiving the viewers since they are not in love. In fact, years’ worth of data about human emotions help these aliens understand the affairs of the heart and be receptive to human gestures and their biological changes. That’s how this alien deduced that Chloe and Adam are not in love. Due to this mistake, the broadcasting commission can sue them for a huge amount that would take several generations for them to pay back.

The alien offers another solution. Chloe or Adam can start broadcasting with another partner. Chloe quickly agrees to it, thinking of her family. It breaks Adam’s heart that she can so easily let go of her feelings for him. She makes him realize how romance is not her priority as food and shelter are. Back home, Natalie starts getting pessimistic about their future. Beth, who tries to keep the hope alive, gets upset. On the other hand, she senses the danger a legal action can cause to her son. So, she decides to meet the alien to find a solution for her child’s safety. First of all, she makes a case for Adam and how there can be different forms of love. Eventually, the alien agrees to not sue Adam and Chloe under one condition – if his son gets to be in a relationship akin to humans.

Shirley’s Arrival

The alien’s son will start living at the Campbell residence, where Beth will act as his wife. Adam and Natalie cannot digest the fact that they will need to consider an alien as a part of their family. But Beth commits to this responsibility and marries this creature before his arrival. It hurts Adam that he needs to call an alien his dad when his biological father is still alive. After an argument with Beth about this new father, he joins Marshes in the basement. On the news, they see two people arguing about the impact of Vuvv on entrepreneurial spirit. Hunter points out his anger at the new way of the world. Mr Marsh, being a middle-aged man, praises the competitive nature of the economy. He values Darwinism. Adam points out how extreme competition can lead to domination.

Adam’s opposition to the status quo makes Hunter laugh. He considers himself a victim of a black, barely well-to-do person with a house. Meanwhile, he conveniently forgets the years’ worth of slavery white folks put black folks through. Oh wait, he hasn’t learned about it. So, he gets another chance to crib. Anyhow, we get to witness an argument in a way that may as well happen in today’s reality. Once Hunter leaves, his father also cribs about how well Adam’s family is doing compared to them. He envies their joy and hopes to have it for his family.

An Unexpected Visitor

Later at night, Adam’s father sneaks into the house to speak just with him. After some father-son small talk, he asks about Beth getting into a relationship with a Vuvv and its strangeness. Unfortunately, their conversation leads to nowhere. After all, his father just shows up out of nowhere and expects things to be okay. Eventually, Mr Campbell sees Beth sleeping next to the Vuvv and walks back the way he came. So, Adam and Natalie do not get this chance to stay with their father.

Later, the school closes since the aliens decide to provide education through nodes. So, another aspect of human experience – socializing, gets canceled by the aliens for the sake of focusing on their resourcefulness. Back home, the Vuvv orders Beth a dress and a blonde wig. After having seen several old-school Hollywood films, the alien wishes to Beth act like those conventional wives.

He does not want Beth to start earning either since ‘he has enough for both.’ Beth refuses to accept his patriarchal treatment. See how even aliens learn and embrace patriarchy since it benefits them? No wonder all the Kens felt like they were the victims when they learned about it. Anyhow, Beth decides to go for a job opportunity instead of being the alien’s subservient wife.

Landscape with Invisible Hand (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

Why does Adam decide to return to Earth?

The alien wants Bev to be his subservient wife. She refuses that and, instead, goes for her new job. Mr. Marsh uses this opportunity to his advantage and starts acting as the alien’s wife. After returning from her work, Beth cannot control her laughter at his utter desperation. Meanwhile, Chloe starts feeling more and more isolated due to Adam’s distance and her father’s obsession with superiority. Adam spends his time painting a mural on their school’s wall. He now gets a huge canvas to paint a picture of life under the alien occupation. He dedicates it to the spirit of human resilience. An alien sees it and offers him a huge opportunity to be an artist-in-residence in their facility with a huge salary. Hunter starts drooling, just listening to that number.

With everyone clapping for him, Adam finds it hard to let go of this opportunity. So, he eventually decides to accept it. In the end, Adam goes to the aliens’ base to learn something shocking. They expect him to work on spreading propaganda through his art by only praising the work of the alien occupants. Adam, who always sought truth through his art, could not digest this. So, he immediately returns to earth. Instead, he starts working on a mural he wants to make rather than work for the authorities who only wish to spread propoganda. After his return, he and Chloe also get back together as friends. Finally, we see them working on a Landscape with Invisible Hand.

Read More: 30 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 21st Century


Landscape with Invisible Hand (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
Landscape with Invisible Hand (2023) Movie Cast: Asante Blackk, Kylie Rogers, Tiffany Haddish
Landscape with Invisible Hand (2023) Movie Genre: Sci-fi/Drama, Runtime: 1h 45m
Where to watch Landscape with Invisible Hand

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