Review by Sean Boelman
With hints of Black Mirror-like social commentary and dark humor, the new French anthology film Selfie is perhaps one of the funniest movies of 2020 so far. Having segments that are both hilarious and legitimately insightful, this is a film made specifically for the modern age of technology.
The movie is composed of five interconnected stories all involving the common theme of technology and how it influences peoples’ lives. The main storyline (directed by Thomas Bidegain), which serves as the anchor, involves a family of vloggers whose influencer status is challenged when their young son finds out that his cancer is cured. Although this segment is split up unlike the others, its unabashedly dark edge sets it out as the film’s most memorable.
The second segment (directed by Marc Fitoussi) is a tongue-in-cheek riff on romantic comedy tropes. Following an online troll who falls in love with the public figure she harassed, this is perhaps the most lighthearted tales of the bunch. Thanks to the great chemistry between Elsa Zylberstein and Max Boublil, this part of the movie is infectiously sweet.
Tristan Auroret’s third segment is also extremely strong because of its excellent world building. Another off-kilter romance, this portion of the film addresses the world of online dating as a man restlessly tries to climb the ranks of the social chain to match with the love of his life, not stopping to recognize the people he meets along the way. While this is the most direct of the segments, it still has plenty of great humor in the form of secondhand embarrassment.
As is always the case with anthology movies, there must be a weak link, and that is arguably Cyril Geblat’s segment. This portion of the film has a very intriguing concept — an algorithm that dictates everything in the characters’ lives — but it isn’t fully explored. This is the one segment that would have benefitted from a longer form narrative.
That said, Vianney Lebasque is easily able to bring the movie home with her segment involving a leak of massive amounts of personal information that is discovered at a wedding. Lebasque’s segment is likely the most perceptive of the bunch, as it has the most exploration of its characters’ relationships with the technology it depicts.
Although each segment tackles its own subset of modern technology, when taken as a whole, the film serves as an important cautionary tale about what can happen when the element of human connection is lost from society. Although this message may seem like common sense, it is particularly important in a time when people are having to rely on technology to stay in touch while social distancing.
Selfie may just be one of the funniest and most entertaining anthology movies of all time. It’s almost ironic that the film’s North American debut was robbed of it and critics are having to watch the movie remotely and alone, but that only makes the message even more accurate.
Selfie was set to screen at the cancelled 2020 SXSW Film Festival. It is currently seeking distribution.
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