New VOD Releases: 2050 (2020) - Reviewed

Some of the most interesting films are the ones that fail.  Auteurs that reach for the heavens and only find the clouds are the foundation of unique cinematic ventures; as sometimes the promise an artist holds within them is greater than the sum of an unrealized concept. This is the charm of Princeton Holt's latest feature film, 2050.  While on the surface level, his sex robot melodrama seems concerned with well-endowed androids and awkward monologues about love, underneath lies something far more intriguing, despite the fact that the film never gets there.  Featuring a creepy cameo performance by Dean Cain, organic dialogue, and unexpectedly astute camerawork, this one of the first beautiful disasters of the year. 

Unhappily married couple Michael and Brooke struggle to find intimacy.  When Michael learns that his brother in law Drew has purchased a customizable sex robot, he begins to explore new avenues of pleasure, partnership, and happiness, unaware of the consequences that await.  This is the kind of film that begins exactly the way the audience would expect: A socially awkward loner has bought a lifelike sex robot to be his companion.  However, as the slow-paced story progresses, the narrative shifts focus to the challenges of marriage, which are further complicated by perceptions and things left unsaid.  Brian Ackley's dialogue laden script focuses on interactions, both between humans and humans and robots over any sort of action.  Words are the real weapons in Holt's neon drenched sexual arena.  

One of the most striking aspects of the film is in how the characters are realized.  Drew, Michael's brother in law (played by a pitch perfect Devin Fuller) seeks companionship in the electronic in the wake of a breakup.  His motivations are to forget, but ultimately all he can do is remember.  This is in direct contrast to Michael, who gets exactly what he seeks...and more.  The middle ground is Irina Abraham's Brooke.  Easily the most complex character, she tries to make her marriage to Michael work, yet remains firm in who she is at all times.  Dean Cain has a handful of scenes as the shady inventor of the sex bots, and his monologue during the final act is par for the course.  While it doesn't provide any insight into the moral dilemmas faced by the characters, it feels perfectly at home in the grimy, morally compromised baseline of 2050's world.  These are self-absorbed people who seek the perfect partner...only to then truly understand the nature of their existences.  This realization has positive and intriguing consequences for every character.  

Rounding out the cast is Stephanie Bloom and Stormi Maya as the electronic companions.  Their deadpan delivery is perfectly timed and their dedication to the material takes what could have been cheesy and transforms it into something borderline sinister.  Jared Roybal's shadowy cinematography has a noirish quality that brings depths to every seen outside of the couple's home, a chilling reminder of Michael's wanderlust.  Konstantinos Lyrikos' eclectic score is the final ingredient, bringing together a world not unlike the present, but yet dangerously prescient of things to come.

Now available for digital rental, 2050 is a low budget, anti-rom com.  While its refusal to go "dark" is admirable, the ambiguous ending is almost a disappointment, purely because of the steady build up from the previous two acts.  However, the understanding that life goes on, that people continue to participate in unhappy unions, and that eventually, even the human soul will be fabricated is perhaps the most sobering conclusion imaginable.  

--Kyle Jonathan