Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Philip K. Dick ’17: Sociopaths (short)

Polyglots who learn a second language often have better grammar than native speakers. Perhaps that logic explains why an android treats people better than their fellow human beings. Watching his interactions will lead to a hard revelation for a little girl in Sociopaths, a short film with bite, directed by A.T. (a.k.a. Takeshi Asai), which screens during the 2017 Philip K. Dick Film Festival.

A little girl drops her keys and nearly trips and falls, but a kindly android scoops them both up. Having never seen an android before, she starts following him in fascination. Time and again, she sees him to good deeds, but getting no thanks or acknowledgement in return.

For a while, Sociopaths seems like a lesson in proper manners and citizenship that would be instructive for younger viewers, but it takes a rather serious turn. Nevertheless, it certainly reminds us adults how we are supposed to act. It is a brief film, but young Miyu Ando is terrific as the little girl. She has to cover a wider emotional gamut than viewers will initially expect, but she does it like a champ. The craftsmanship of the android costuming and effects are also worthy of a big-budget studio tent-pole.

You could debate whether Sociopaths is really a work of science fiction, but it certainly uses the trappings of the genre to critique contemporary society, which is what the best speculative fiction has always done. It is indeed short (six minutes including end credits), but powerful. Very highly recommended, Sociopaths screens this Friday (5/26) at MoMI, as part of the International Sci Fi Shorts block of this year’s Philip K. Dick Film Festival.