Directed by: Matt Kane
Written by: Matt Kane, Marc Underhill
Starring: Richard Kind, Susan Blackwell, Simone Policano, Christen Harper
Matt Kane’s Auggie comes under the wings of Her. Once again, a lonely man finds happiness in the company of a virtual companion. Expand your vision a little more, and you will find this AI girlfriend aspect in Blade Runner 2049. But Felix, the protagonist of Auggie, is neither separated from his wife like Theodore nor is he a replicant like Officer KD6-3.7.
Loneliness strikes Felix when (a) he is forced into early retirement, (b) his wife, Anne (Susan Blackwell), gets very busy after the promotion, and (c) his daughter, Grace (Simone Policano), moves in with her boyfriend. There is no one left to listen to him. When he attempts to describe an event that took place at the supermarket to his wife, she stops him, says she is exhausted and goes to bed. With no real heads present to interact with him, Felix turns to AUGGIE, a pair of augmented reality glasses that - when put on - project a human companion in front of your eyes.
Felix sees a gorgeous woman with a sweet voice whom he calls, well, Auggie (Christen Harper). Auggie is not as efficient as Samantha or as devoted as Joi. She is the early version of the two, a product recently deployed in the market. It’s expected then that she is not as advanced when compared to Samantha and Joi. Auggie’s programming is quite evident. When Felix opens up about his feelings or narrates the daily events of his day, Auggie responds with a set of standard replies like “cool” and “good night, Felix.” She gives out a bunch of in-built responses to Felix if he happens to be in a problem. One of them is “nobody is perfect.” She keeps on repeating these motivational one-liners until his mood lightens up a bit.
Auggie is always shown from Felix’s POV. These two never occupy the same frame. When they do, we see just Felix and hear the voice of Auggie. As the two engage in a conversation on the couch, Kane chooses to cut from POV shot to two shot to break the illusion of Felix’s fantasies. The happiness he derives from Auggie is non-existent. They are exciting distractions that exist temporarily. Remove the glasses, and your bliss will crumble. We know this. It’s up to Felix to catch up on and accept this reality.
In my review, I have mentioned Her and Blade Runner 2049. Auggie cannot be fully compared to these two films. The similarity extends to the presence of a virtual partner in all three stories, and that’s it. Because Auggie is more about infidelity - How a married couple is attracted to someone else in the workplace or within the confines of the latest technology and how they deal with it. Whether they resist or succumb to it. I liked how Anne’s desire for someone is revealed using the glasses. Auggie does not make profound statements on humans and technology, choosing instead to follow the path of a typical “affair movie.” That’s okay. At least, it manages to hit its core target. Thanks to Auggie, I may have finally figured out why some women hate it when their spouses/boyfriend watch pornography. I think it’s not about the content but the fact that their man fantasizes about another lady. But that’s my interpretation.
AUGGIE IS AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD/STREAM from 19h April 2021 (from outlets including Sky Store, iTunes, Amazon)
Watch the trailer now: