Directed by Patrick Ryder
Starring Leila Kotori, Alex Phillips & Nadia Lamin
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Everybody loves robots right? Who doesn’t like robots? If you don’t, you probably are one. That’s why so many films feature them as central characters or ideas, because our fascination with something resembling a human but that is man-made is so ingrained. Perhaps our craving for robot stories stems from a desire to guess the future and the way technology will shape it, or to spark debate about our own existence and the qualities that define “being human”. Patrick Ryder’s short film, Human, is a graceful and touching introspection of humanity.
Set in a deserted factory, Anna (Leila Kotori) stumbles upon a remarkable being abandoned in the corner of the building. Amidst the rusting pipes and cold metalwork, a robot (Alex Phillips) stands immobile. Awakening him, Anna soon discovers that the tale behind this robot’s being, and his maker Mari (Nadia Lamin), is laden with hope, discovery and tragedy.
Human is a short film that applies a gorgeous aesthetic and seamless filmmaking to a classic sci-fi fable about the definition of existence. Most importantly, the robot - named Allium - is one of the very best on-screen robots I have ever seen. Totally engaging and completely compelling, Phillips operates the suit with rigid believability whilst drawing you into his existential crisis. The look and feel of the suit is beautifully crafted and remained a complementary part of the film rather than a catwalk of crazy gadgets and childish mimicry. Both Kotori and Lamin are fine counterweights to the bot, offering up a relatively decent slice of emotional depth, but their scenes felt rather familiar in a film that could have just featured Allium.
Ryder has proven on past short film outings that his tonal approach is impressive (see Flux or Coffee to Go), but Human is a masterclass in aesthetic filmmaking. The lighting is consistently in tune with the emotion of the scene (love the lens flares), the score and its delicate twinkling grounded the whole movie perfectly, and the use of soft editing captured the complete sense of wonderment which was being paralleled by Allium’s self-discovery.
The story (co-written by Ryder and partner Christine Barber-Ryder), is far from anything groundbreaking but does include some lovely themes about loneliness and the evolution of the soul, which were particularly enjoyable. Some of the dialogue was quite clunky, especially in earlier scenes where Anna attempts to befriend Allium, but Mari’s solo scenes were enjoyable - especially once the scale and poignancy of Allium’s journey becomes apparent.
Overall an impressive and remarkable short film for fans of robots (which is everyone), or fans of existential debate (which is most people), or those who adore a little touch of lens flare (which is most definitely me).