What would an intimate drama written by Asimov or Philip K. Dick, in collaboration with Ian McEwan, look like? We know that such a combination may sound quite bizarre, but director Kilian Thomas manages to find in his short film that balance between mental experiments inspired by a futuristic society and the emotional subtleties of a modern couple. Thus, ‘ALEXANNE‘, at first glance, seems either a realistic, domestic reinterpretation of novels such as “I, the Robot”, or a more “technological” approach of a novel such as “Machines like me”. Regardless, however, of the literary or cinematic affinities that the viewer can intuit, this short film offers us a cynical perspective on the interpersonal relations touched by the virus of an accelerated dehumanization. The themes are multiple and well-articulated, despite the small size of the project, which, beyond its dramatic valences, is a social critique. Thus, conjugal spleen along with its “mechanical” routine, technology addiction, misogyny, devaluation of feelings, in favour of insatiable carnal consumerism, but also issues such as identity crisis or the inability to overcome the “human” condition (those who saw the short film will understand why we use these quotation marks) intertwine in an intense and painfully true micro-narrative.
Alexanne seems to be the perfect wife for Matthieu, a man dedicated to his work who needs a woman who can take care exclusively of his marital comfort. But once the routine settles into this corrosive cyclicity of living together, Matthieu realizes that his Alexanne is not… updated enough.
Even though the viewer will feel from the first half of the project what the truth behind this couple is, the actors (especially the leading actress) offer us a refined play that still maintains the uncertainty until the climax. The dynamics between the two characters seem to tick all the clichés of a conventional family drama, but the director has the talent to divert the inertia of the project to move towards a too banal narrative formula. In fact, Kilian Thomas doesn’t aim to build a futuristic society from the ground up, but only to use the technological pretext to tackle the subtleties of the contemporary individual, reduced to an elementary mechanism for which the satisfaction of pleasure becomes the supreme goal. At the same time, the coherence of the cinematography, the well-conducted transitions, the elusive details revealed by the actors, along with the music, make ‘ALEXANNE’ not only an excellent short film but also a kind of bitter prophecy about the near future of humanity.
For the quality of the cinematic material combined with the total involvement of the actors in depicting this dehumanized society and for the depth and nuances of the message it expresses, ‘ALEXANNE’ was awarded the Film of the Month distinction in the July 2021 edition of TMFF.