What Is Reality?
Technology is moving forward at an incredible rate. Many people have theorized that we could go too far with this and the time is coming when technology will overtake humanity. Whether that comes to fruition in our lifetime or forever remains a sci-fi dream is up for debate.
One of the more interesting technologies that has taken huge leaps forward since the 70’s is that of Virtual Reality. Gone are the blue and red glasses, the cardboard boxes and straining your eyes. Now we’re looking at Oculus Rifts and Playstation VRs.
The technology still has a long way to go of course but the feel of plunging underwater or falling off a tall building still brings up some same neurological flight-or-fight senses that trick the brain into thinking it’s real. So what happens if we develop that technology to such a degree that we can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not?
Step forward Mnemophrenia, a clever little sci-fi flick looks to explore just that. With multiple point of view shots, an intentionally misleading set of scenes stitched together and a fascinating concept, this movie has a lot of good ideas and it explores them in a pretty creative way.
To backtrack though it’s worth understanding exactly what Mnemophrenia is. This relates to a new psychological issue arising from using advanced virtual reality technology. This causes its wearer to have trouble distinguishing between real and artificial memories. This presents a particularly interesting conundrum for the movie as it splits the focus between three seemingly parallel narratives.
I won’t spoil too much here but suffice to say Mnemophrenia is not a movie for everyone and does require a fair amount of patience to fully understand how everything ties together. The first narrative surrounds Robyn, a woman whom we only really see from point of view shots. She lives her life with husband Charlie but is conflicted by her dedication to work. I won’t spoil what the nature of her work is here but suffice to say, it makes more sense late on.
Alongside that, we also experience a near-future group therapy session with a woman called Jeanette. As she sits with fellow men and women suffering from mnemophrenia, they discuss the pros and cons of the condition they’re currently living with. Interwoven around these two character-driven studies is Nicholas, who works on the next stage of virtual reality technology known as T.C. (Total Cinema)
To begin with it’s not initially clear how all of this fits but the third act does a pretty good job creatively merging all three narratives together. However, this is most definitely a slow burn drama. There isn’t a lot of action nor are there that many dramatic spikes of tension. Instead, the movie plays out as a thought provoking piece that’s designed as a cautionary tale for the future.
There’s a lot of intriguing discussions here that dive into the pros and cons of technology and this is ultimately where the movie is at its strongest. For example, midway through a group session one of the members talks about his virtual experiences cheating on his wife… then in the real world he does just that. The movie is packed full of these ideas and it’s here that Mnemophrenia is at its strongest.
Given this is an Indie film, do be prepared for some low budget effects and a fair amount of exposition early on. The first 15 minutes or so try to disguise this across the different scenes but it’s still pretty overwhelming. On top of that, Mnemophrenia does have a few wobbly lines of dialogue and the delivery does fall flat at times, especially during some of the third act’s more emotional moments.
Having said all that though, Mnemophrenia is a fascinating, cautionary tale about the dangers of virtual reality. It’s a methodically paced movie that makes good use of its low budget and boasts some pretty creative camera effects too. If you can get past some of the minor issues, this is a decent Indie film that’s well worth a watch.