Selfie

 

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Five filmmakers warn of the dangers of technology in this portmanteau black comedy from France.

 

Selfie

 

Did you know that mobile phones are bad?

 

In all honesty, the biggest thing holding Selfie back is the core message behind the film. The thematic glue holding the segments together seems to be that the unforeseen negative effects of technology are making life more complicated and difficult rather than easier and simpler. It's not exactly a new take: this type of story has been done to death across film, television, literature, even video games. The filmmakers really needed to find a daring and original way to tell their stories, and some of them nearly succeeded.

 

Although many critics and audiences have been contrasting this film with Charlie Brooker’s wildly successfully television series Black Mirror, the comparisons are only valid on a surface level. Black Mirror goes for a more dramatic tone (even if some episodes dip their toes into black comedy) and usually a horror aesthetic. Brooker seeks to make bold, declarative statements on the world and the way people interact within it. Selfie is more overtly comical with its satirical takes and manages to draw out a few laughs and constant chuckles throughout. Each segment also feels fairly grounded in reality, which helps the tone and humour. Still, one waits for a segment to truly go there, to gift the viewer with a mind-blowing creative storytelling choice, to consider technology's place in our life in a new and challenging way. This never happens, and while some of the segments end unexpectedly, everything is still fairly safe and bland.

 

That being said, there are some genuinely good performances here, and some interesting ideas which, if explored and developed further, could have made for decent features. Most anthologies suffer from the same problem. The best segments aren't given the necessary time to breathe and ruminate on their themes, while the worst ones drag on far too long and leave one annoyed with how obvious the message is. Selfie safely belongs to the former category, but flirts with becoming the latter with each cut back to the blogger family.

 

Overall, it’s a decent experiment with some promising ideas, but ends up teasing something greater that doesn’t live up to its potential.

 

CALEB JOHN CUSHING

 

Cast: Blanche Gardin, Maxence Tual, Elsa Zylberstein, Max Boublil, Finnegan Oldfield, Fanny Sidney, Manu Payet, Sebastien Chassagne, Mariama Gueye, Thomas De Pourquery, Alma Jodorowsky.

 

Dir Tristan Aurouet, Thomas Bidegain, Marc Fitoussi, Cyril Gelblat and Vianney Lebasque, Pro Adrien Desanges and Julien Sibony, Screenplay Giulio Callegari, Noé Debré, Hélène Lombard, Julien Sibony and Bertrand Soulier, Ph Pierre-Hugues Galien, Pro Des Johann George, Ed Stephan Couturier and Claire Fieschi, Music Laurent Perez Del Mar, Costumes Stéphanie Watrigant.

 

Mandoline Films/Chez Georges Prods/France 2 Cinema/Tcham Films/Nexus Factor/Umedia/uFund-South by Southwest Film Festival.

France. 2019. Rel: 12 June 2020 (Cheltenham International Film Festival - online). No Cert.