Everyone knows massive, game-changing scientific breakthroughs have become entwined in our everyday lives. Just imagine a world without any synthetic plastics, modern medicine or iphones. The wonders of science have given us so much and answered so many questions, but honestly, I’m still waiting for my jetpack and robot dog. Seriously, science, where are they?
Mike Buonaiuto’s Jouet is a dark and compelling tale of genetically engineered machines that seem to be capable of love. In the film, it’s perfectly normal for war widows to have life-like robot copies of their dead partners, but things get out of hand when one Jouet starts to feel emotions.
The primary setting is a vast and void house, shot with the Technicolor’s CineStyle Picture Style For Canon HD-SLRs, creating an eerie and tense atmosphere that’s beautifully lit. This futuristic home is like a prison, and we’re trapped inside with an emotionally unstable robot. Through Jouet, Buonaiuto presents us with a machine that has all the functions that make us human, and so the stay-at-home synthetic husband elicits empathy, especially as the core of his narrative is that of forbidden love and jealousy, a not uncommon feeling. Jouet, and the countless movies and stories that inspired it, reflects on the notion of humanity, and concludes that what makes us human is not skin deep.
Jouet is a character study of an android, the fictional story of a fictional being, albeit one who may be human after all, under all the wires and metal. After the short film finishes and you finish your cup of tea, you may find yourself pondering some of the questions raised. After all, there’s a new, massive scientific breakthrough every minute, it seems like, and it can’t be long until things like Jouets exist. What then? How will we approach these robotic politics, what freedoms will we grant our synthetic offspring? If they have the power to think, to learn and even feel, how are they really any different?