If you’ve been missing ‘Black Mirror’, then ‘Feelblock‘ is the perfect choice for you. We do not know for sure whether Halldór Frank Hafsteinsson planned such a parallel, but the incisiveness of his social critique is similar to that intended by the famous series. We are, therefore, not necessarily in front of a sci-fi short film but in front of a brief panorama of human nature in our immediate contemporaneity. Hence, the hyper-technological convention is rather a pretext, a secondary means that allows for a cynical insight into how society constrains human reactivity. Someway, the short film touches on the premises of a dystopia, but it doesn’t reach a political extreme. In fact, the director is much more interested not in ideological mechanisms but in those behavioural “politics” imposed by the new wave of the culture of optimism. Everything ultimately is focused on the censorship of “destructive” emotions – sadness, anger, revolt, etc. – so common in the fauna of new social environments that absurdly embrace a recycled Zen philosophy.
The short film depicts a few days in the life of a young woman who, after accidentally causing irreparable damage to her Feelblock device, must see how she will manage the “negative emotions” that bind her to an extremely demanding boss but also to the death of a loved person. In other words, we plunge into an alternative version of our present, witnessing either with stupor or with a cynical grin a fragment of the dehumanization process caused by the culture of satisfaction that we more or less consciously ingest every day.
This oscillation between cynicism and tragicomedy is, in fact, an intentional strategy by Halldór Frank Hafsteinsson, who, without giving moralizing verdicts, expresses with a disarming narrative and technical simplicity the programmatic alienation of the contemporary individual. Thus, he insidiously tackles the aberrant meanings that the concept of “civilization” has taken on today, illustrating the early stage of a human catastrophe caused by a “dictatorship of happiness”. What a despair in this permanent satisfaction, in this counterfeit happiness! And what precision in this sharp and indigestible short film, in this ‘Feelblock’ that puts a mirror in front of our own desire to avoid grief at any cost!
For its well-measured cynicism and for its apparent simplicity that manages to capture an acidic mini-social critique, ‘Feelblock’ was awarded with the Film of the Month distinction in the November 2022 edition of TMFF.