Directed by: #EiriniKonstantinidou
Any and all great science-fiction movies serve as a commentary on mankind’s connection to, and relationship with, technology. Or what we might call progress. Eirini Konstantinidou’s interest is just that; the evolutionary progress of mankind. And she sets out with a studious examination of the pros and cons of technology’s involvement in that. It soon becomes clear there’s no right or wrong here, no black or white. Just a quagmire of ethical dilemmas.
With the use of brain-implanted chips, which records every living experience, people are now able to live through other’s thoughts, feelings and experiences. Living or dead. But these technological advances in virtual reality and its increased and prolonged use has brought about the existence of a now widespread condition called Mnemophrenia (a portmanteau of “mneme” and “schizophrenia”). A condition defined as a subject having both real and artificial memories. Often with the sufferer being unable to differentiate between the two, hence losing their sense of identity.
The narrative flicks between three different story arcs, each following a different generation of the same family and their experiences of Mnemophrenia. The first concerns Jeanette Harper (Freya Berry), a young woman whose life has been shaped, and scarred, by the memories of a past love affair that never happened. The next arc sees Jeanette’s grandson, Nicholas Morgan (Robin King), embracing his Mnemophrenia and using it to develop new virtual reality technology for a company called Total Cinema. The last is centred around Robyin (Tallulah Sheffield), a young and terminally ill woman, who decides to use her brain-implanted virtual reality chip to record and catalogue her experiences of dying. Beliving the ability to feel and experience other people’s ordeals is the next evolutionary step for humanity.
All the major characters come off as well-rounded and well-developed individuals, with cause for their actions and points-of-view. Konstantinidou achieved this by making each story arc in chronological order, then asking the actors to watch the previous segment and build their characters based on what they’d observed. And I think it’s worked really well here, as performances are, generally, excellent across the board. Although there are a few instances of poor delivery and emotional vacancy.
Mnemophrenia serves as a chilling and all too ineluctable vision of our future. Each story presents itself as a debate on the morality of our ever-increasing inputting of personal data and how computer algorithms process this data. The manner in which Konstantinidou approaches this is wholly academic; presenting points-of-view for both sides of the argument. Everyone here is given a fair hearing, and there’s no right or wrong to be found anywhere.
This approach works so well with science-fiction filmmaking as this is the defining trait of the genre. The blurring of lines between technological progress and loss of humanity has long been science fiction’s modus operandi, even going back as far as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein - arguably the first work of science fiction in history. And Mnemophrenia itself seems like a natural progression for the genre. It brilliantly picks up on the hot topic of its time – in this case, immersive virtual reality technology – and asks “where might this take us?” And, while there are a few problems to be found, this is a damn fine piece of work, written by a damn fine writer. It’s a film that deserves an audience. An audience I’m sure it’ll get.