Star rating (out of 5): ★★★
Directed by: #Sophia Banks
Written by: #Dominick Joseph Luna
Proxy is a short film set in the near future where an agency provides a service of well-trained ‘stand in’ actors hired to visit people in their homes in order to role play a lost loved one or an estranged partner. Victoria (Emma Booth) is a highly successful ‘proxy’ dressing the part and following the script. She’s in high demand but has begun to find helping others as a proxy causes psychological problems of its own.
This is an eerie story looking at how people deal with loss using an escort type service that caters to people’s emotional needs for the right price. It challenges what it is to have human emotions, what services we are willing to pay for and what affect this could have on us. It shows how emotions and feelings can be easily replaced, blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s simulated. Interestingly enough this comes at a time when questions are often asked about the role of artificial intelligence in today’s society, whereas this exaggerates how human emotions, facilitated by technology, can be reenacted on demand.
Directed by Sophia Banks the sets have a high-end design and are nicely shot, with beautiful clothing and accessories to match, perhaps showing the director’s eye for aspirational advertising, which gives the Proxy an air of exclusivity and shows the affluence of the clients who are able to request the home service. The music has an electronic vibrancy that brings a mysterious feel to a future reality and Emma Booth is the striking looking Proxy with a professional edginess prepared to act the femme fatale chameleon - changing her clothes, her hair and her make-up to suit her clients’ demands but struggling to come to terms with her own reality. It all has a Twin Peaks like mystery feel with the psychologically damaged characters, stylised sets and music.
The dangers are shown from the start as Victoria engages with her first client Christopher (Shaw Jones) who is dealing with some disturbing childhood issues that leave the proxy traumatised but it is clear this is something she is familiar with and not unprepared for. There is no let-up in the demand for her service as she responds to the appointments made by some creepy customers keen to use the high profile booking service. Whilst the clients she visits never totally captivate and the dialogue never really catches light they are kooky enough to give a sense of the strange interactions possible through the scripted role plays.
Overall this is an interesting short film that has a dark vision of a not too distant future in response to people’s demands for just about any type of service. Providing a service to help with people’s well-being through a psychologist of some kind is quite common nowadays, something the role playing shown here is not too far from despite its creepy nature. So a proxy service could be a very viable business, although it may need a few more clauses in its contract.