Wednesday, 4 November 2015

technotise: edit & i

edit & i is a serbian animated cyberpunk thriller, which despite being set in the future feels kind of retro because no one makes cyberpunk thrillers anymore (i blame steampunk).

edit is a college student who keeps failing exams so decides to cheat by installing a military-grade chip into her arm that improves brain function. she also makes some extra money on the side by caring for a mute, autistic man who has in his head a formula to predict the future. when edit is exposed to the formula it reacts with the chip in her arm and suddenly she is evolving into a brand new lifeform, which would be great except the technology is probably going to kill her and that’s if the military don’t get to her first.

it seem kind of lazy to compare edit & i to the two other great animated classics of the genre, akira and ghost in the shell, but it does in fact share an awful lot with both of those films, both in the narrative and thematically. at it’s heart, this is a story about youth and friendship, and how friends react when one of the group is essentially transitioning into adulthood, only adulthood is represented by having your nervous system replaced by wires and your brain taken over by a supercomputer. like akira, this focus on the friendship group and the reaction of the friends to the transformation of the central protagonist is a key part of the film. at the same time, edit spends much of the film in conversation with her newly developed computer brain and this idea of artificial intelligence evolved is very similar to the themes of ghost in the shell. it also reminded me of perhaps the best entry in the animatrix anthology, koji morimoto’s beyond, because it’s a sci-fi story that feels very grounded in reality.

despite these comparisons, edit & i is very much its own film and what it adds to the genre is a sense of humanity and realism missing from many animated features. the film has quite a frank and naturalistic approach to sex and relationships, which somehow makes it seem more mature than many similar sci-fi titles.

edit herself really feels like a person too, and her decisions and behaviour always ring true. for example, when she is shown the top secret technology for predicting the future she immediately tells all her friends about it, which puts in her much greater trouble than she was in before but also is exactly what that character would do. she also has some rather explosive arguments with her mother and is constantly fending off her boyfriend’s advances, all of which adds a level of complexity to an already interesting character. at times it’s easy to forget that edit & i is set in the future and even that it’s animation because the world and the characters it presents are so recognisable and it all feels very grounded.

added to this there are some incredible action sequences. the computer inside edit’s body is obviously awesome at martial arts so there are a few fights along the way and there is an amazing hoverboard chase halfway through. overall the visuals are quite stunning and occasionally beautiful. the style is naturalistic for the most part but the filmmakers make full use of the medium to bend reality in the more surrealistic moments. at one point early on edit is distracted when she hallucinates a network of wires and circuitry expanding artfully across a concrete wall, and though the same effect could be achieved in a live action film, it somehow seems more integrated into the world of the story here.

on the down side, there are moments where the film veers more towards meandering art project than sci-fi thriller and while these moments do give the story its substance, they do occasionally feel a bit indulgent. it also has to be said that the translation isn’t the best and while it never fully detracts from the experience, the frequent errors in the subtitles are distracting.

edit & i is a welcome return to a genre that felt like it disappeared after the last matrix film. while the ideas presented in the film may not be anything new, the well-written characters and more naturalistic narrative elements make the big sci-fi themes and ideas seem somehow refreshing and new. and the animation is beautiful so it’s worth checking out for that alone.

technotise: edit & i will be released on dvd by simply media on 9th november 2015

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