Three years after her partner’s untimely death, Dr. Lena Thierry, a neuroengineer, has been unable to move on. After years of research and development, she attempts to upload his consciousness into a computer software program.
Grief is one of the hardest human emotions to cope with, and certainly a difficult emotion to bring forward in a film. But director and writer Malik Isasis, was able to portray the complicated facet of grief, in this marvelous softened short film; Lena’s Complicated Machine.
The idea came from a rough short script that I had written a couple of years ago about a woman who suffers from complicated grief (which is grief/depression lasting longer than two years; I am a clinical social worker in addition to being a filmmaker). I wanted to add a twist to the story by having a protagonist who would be in a position to do something about the loss. The consequences of her hubris in hacking her partner’s memories was an interesting theme to explore, in terms of how it elevates her professionally while hurting her personally.
The film’s most successful asset is its subtlety of the science fiction aspect. With a touch neurological fiction, Malik doesn’t focus the film around the high tech gadgets and hologram screens, as all those make brief and essential appearances in the film, they are simply mere structural supports for the story. Letting us keep focus on the more psychological aspect of things.
While LCM is a science-fiction film, it is really a story about loss and remembering someone you love. As I was writing the story, I wondered whether Lena’s grieving is extended by the brain emulation technology that she develops, rather than helping her move forward, and what that means for development of such technologies.
Like anyone else, we get scared when we see a 30 minute film online, but boy do we not regret giving that half hour away for Lena. The film gives itself a smooth momentum and a marvelous transition from dreamy to realistic keeps your mind running with it at all times.
The reason it runs a bit longer than the average short is because I wanted it to feel like a complete story, rather than an idea of one.
The structurally balanced film starts from its ambitious script and strong directing, but holds itself up through the film with the convincing and magnificent acting, its immersive soundtrack and gracious cinematography.