Test surprise : If the human becomes inhuman, do I have to keep hope by looking for the humanity in an artificial intelligence ? You have an hour and a half.
In 1977 already, Julie Christie finds himself trapped in a house managed by an artificial intelligence, in the avant-garde Generation Proteus of Donald Cammell. It is now the turn of Maika Monroe, to be a recluse in a sprawling property in charge of home automation, but unlike the film Cammell, the protagonist is retained here against his will by a mad scientist, and goes to find an ally in TAU, a I. Was not really free from coquetry, because she speaks with the voice so british of Gary Oldman. A difference of approach between the two stories and advance the remote of forty years, situates each film in its time. In the seventies, the idea that a computer, this complex thing of which the public knew so little, may develop a conscience, was a logistical nightmare. Nowadays, after decades of presenting the machines as threats to the cinema, it is more appropriate to deal with more ambiguity in our relation to these objects, these programs and voices that populate our daily lives.
With TAU, Federico Alessandro signed his first feature film as director, after years of officer to the post of director of visual effects for the films of the MCU, The Mummy , or even Terminator Genisys. With this know-how, Alessandro intends to compose a work of aesthetics, and this even if the story verges on the camera and confined the action to the décor of the luxurious house of Alex, the scientist megalomaniac. To make the decoration more worrying, the dress will be science-fictional, and make it more dynamic, the filmmaker chose the endless lights purple, turquoise or orange, school, Blade Runner, 2049, Altered Carbon, Mute etc., this aesthetic choice, which gives us the unfortunate impression that the genre films Netflix follow and resemble each other, it is necessary to add a glaring lack of risk-taking, concerning the other elements of SF presented the idea. If the overall look of the robot Ares makes it pretty intimidating, which is the interface of geometric TAU, it is not really the best quality because it appears like a recycling of the symbolic forms of light created by Alessandro for Doctor Strange.Difficult to discern whether the filmmaker accustomed to the specifications of the blockbusters, is out of laziness or for the sake of efficiency. But it must be recognized that TAU does not leave at any time up to boredom, and it fills fairly clever four-twenty-ten minutes that he has at his disposal. Maika Monroe has perfectly integrated the concept of the final girl, and goes beyond its status as a prey and a victim with strength and determination, while keeping the share of fragility that allows the viewer to identify with. Beyond the violence and the terror generated by his captivity, the character of Julia managed to install a dimension of the philosophical fairy tale in its history. Helping Tau to expand his awareness of the world and of himself, Julia grew progressively closer to its own freedom, and can thus remember that she is a human being, while his jailer treats it as a guinea pig, a subject of study it is best to ignore emotions and intentions.
Through the voices of Gary Oldman and the interpretation of Maika Monroe, one is interested in this idea that a machine can be more human than the man who designed it. But to say that the relationship between Julia and Tau moves us, there is unfortunately not one that the realization of Alessandro has not been able to overcome. Tau will change places in the story in the space of a few minutes, becoming too easily a friendly presence and caring for Julia, when we would have preferred that the AI keeps longer a part of ambiguity, as it was for example the case in Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2015). The same holds true for Alex, the antagonist, too inhuman and devoid of charm to create interactions troubling with Julia, and whose lack of nuance is also involved in the fact that the issue and the theme of the film seem to be treated on the surface. It is a pity that Federico D’alessandro and Netflix have not shown more ambition.
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• Realization : Federico D’alessandro
• Scenario : Noga Landau
• Main actors : Maika Monroe, Ed Skrein and Gary Oldman
• Release Date : June 29, 2018 on Netflix
• Duration : 1h37min