Emotional Motor Unit – A short film full of emotions
War of the Movies: 8.5/10
Directed by Adam Nelson
Written by Xènia Puiggrós
Running Time: 22 minutes
Starring: Graham Cawter, Francesca Burgoyne, Finnian Nainby-Luxmore, Candice Palladino
If you remember quite well, last year we did a review about a brilliant independent film called Little Pieces. Director Adam Nelson is back and better than ever with the short film Emotional Motor Unit (E.M.U.).
In a world where there is so much pollution that breathing is a pain, and where humans are taking pills to restrain their bad feelings and emotions, like insecurity and pessimism, an author is asked to write a fiction by his employer. Since he has so little life experience, his employer assigns him an E.M.U, an Emotional Motor Unit, to interact with him and help him feel so he can write the fiction he needs to in a two months’ deadline. Slowly but surely, The Writer (who remains nameless) begins to form a friendship with her, even though he knows he only has two weeks before the robot is reprogrammed for another assignment. Once his time with her is over, The Writer has the choice to take the pills given by his employer to help with his withdrawal of the E.M.U., or to feel again for once in his life…
Just by reading the title and synopsis you probably think that this type of story has already been done before, and to some point you are right. After all, even though the script was written before Her and Ex Machina, we can’t help but make a few connections between those films because of the human/robot interaction where feelings are involved. Nonetheless, where Emotional Motor Unit manages to stand out and captivate us, it is with the fact that the director and writer deliver us a whole new version of that interaction. Instead of focusing on the humans trying to make robots learn and feel like us, it is about a robot teaching us how to feel again!
Every little details are so thought of that it gave us a final cut with an impressive and ingenious cinematography, confirming that Adam Nelson is ready to play in the big leagues. For The Writer, you can perfectly tell his state of mind with his mimics and voice intonations. Whether it is because of his shoulders hunch in front of him, or his weak voice as he speaks to his superior, it is clearly apparent from the start just how much he is not use to feel. But as the film goes on, you can see a change in his posture, how confident he grew not only with the E.M.U., but also after his time with her. Another fact that I loved about the cinematography was the importance of the colors. At the beginning, the colors were mostly white, black and grey, void of any emotions just like The Writer, but when we see the E.M.U. for the first time, unlike The Writer, the colors around her are stunning, making us realize just how much important she will be. And this is where Emotional Motor Unit succeeded to show you how good of a short film it is, the fact that the director and writer manage to incorporated all of those elements and emotions changes in 22 minutes is absolutely brilliant.
Visually speaking, the E.M.U. looks very much like a real human, rather than a robot like they usually portrait in those kinds of films. I personally would have preferred to see the E.M.U. looking a little less like a human, but with the film’s budget and Francesca Burgoyne’s great performance as the E.M.U., you quickly push that negative fact on the side. Graham Cawte as The Writer gave us a solid performance; it was a real joy to see just how great he managed to play every emotions and I hope to see more of him in the near future.
Emotional Motor Unit maybe not the kind of film you are used to watch, by I would strongly suggest you give it a try.
As of now, the film is not released yet but I am pretty sure that in the months to come, you will be able to discover and enjoy this short film in many festivals!