“What do you see when you close your eyes?”
This is an incredibly beautiful Science Fiction film.
It’s too bad you probably won’t get to see it.
Alex Garel designs robots. But not in the way you think that means. New advances in technology make it possible to create robots with emotions.
And Alex designs the best of them,
The only problem is that he has a long record of starting projects and then walking away, leaving them unfinished. After years away, Alex has finally returned to his childhood home to do a project at the university where he studied and did his first projects. He’s supposed to be designing a boy robot and is looking for the perfect child to use as his model — one who has a special spark that will ensure that his creation will be unique and appealing — and definitely not boring!
Only he is stunned to discover that the perfect child he’d discovered out on the street is actually his niece, Eva.
And it only complicates things that he and his Brother’s wife were once in love, and he left her behind as well.
I am always encouraged when I find an SF film which places its emphasis on the characters and it is particularly impressive to find one which revolves around the personality of a child. Eva enters the film walking on her hands and dominates it from then on. She is played with a great deal of quirky charm by a newcomer, Claudia Vega. I’m not surprised that it took the director, Kike Maíllo, six months to find her.
In fact, I’m more surprised that he found her at all.
However, Lluís Homar gives a subtle and nuanced (and quite funny) performance as the robot butler, Max and Alex’s “pet,” a robot cat he designed himself, frequently steals the show from the human cast. It surprised me to learn that it wasn’t a digital effect, or animated over the movements of a real cat, but a stunning puppet performance (with the robot mostly greenscreened in).
There’s also an interesting explanation for how one can program emotions for these robots: when they have multiple reactions that they could have, their programming chooses the one that best matches their personalities. I’m not sure this would really work, but it sounds plausible.
I thought I’d figured out exactly what was going on fairly early. I was completely wrong. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, that is always a welcome discovery. It is a somewhat dark ending, but at the same time, nearly perfect.
Sadly, like a lot of foreign Indy SF films, you aren’t likely to see this one — and if you do find it, you might not be able to play it as it only seems to have out on a Region 2 DVD. Blame it on our American bias against subtitles (and lack of language skills!), but a Spanish language film just isn’t going to make it into the Video stores.
And it really didn’t help that KIike Maillo did this as dual language production, not when the languages were Castillian Spanish — and Catalan.
But it is worth the effort to find, and offers something much like the robots that Alex wants to create: unique, distinctive, and with that special spark that separates them from the rest of the herd.