2050 ** China / USA 2018 Dir: Princeton Holt. 104 mins
Operating out of 666 Main Street (so you know it’s legit), “Butterfly Chasers” is a future means of customising your own lover, providing complete subordinates to specification that are then available to own, lease or rent. Programmed to do whatever the owner wants them to do, they are “sex-bots” in our language but officially labelled “e-mates”. Whatever helps you sleep at night. Videogame developer David Vaughn has a self-destructing marriage and a brother-in-law with a secret, comely e-mate of his own. After a failed attempt at sexual roleplay with his wife (she laughs, the mood dies), Vaughn get e-mate curator Dean Cain to craft Sophia, with whom he falls in love while his better half cheats on him with a boring old-school human. With a budget-restricted future world largely restricted to drone pizza deliveries, 2050 nonetheless has a fascinating central concept that allows for a potentially compelling insight into insecure alpha males who spend their days lamenting how women demand they have everything : sensitivity, toughness when required, a big dick, etc. There is humour in scenes of Vaughn browsing the minutiae of the e-mate specs (vagina size, passion level, anal density, cooking ability) while his wife mundanely texts him about dinner getting cold. The script touches upon timely concepts – the replacement of bonafide relationships with what amounts to “a machine, an intellectual dildo”; the idea of a sexual relationship with something that can give pleasure but not receive it. Sadly, the great ideas are largely lost on a talky, flatly executed movie with no momentum as either satire or drama and nothing beyond the surface steals from Kubrick. The wrap-up creaks as badly as some of the dialogue. The premise cries out for a BLACK MIRROR episode instead.
Review by Steven West