Written by: Philippe Blasband
Directed by: Pierre-Paul Renders
Starring: BenoÃ®t Verhaert, Aylin Yay, Magali Pinglaut, Alexandre von Sivers, FrÃ©dÃ©ric Topart
- The Making of Thomas in Love featurette
- Behind the scenes of animation sequences
- Director biography
Released by: New Video Group
My Advice: Rent it.
Thomas Thomas (Verhaert) has agoraphobia, a condition that has kept him in his apartment for eight years; he experiences seizures when just looking at the outside world. He can’t even bear to have people around him. So his only source of interaction with anyone (his insurance agent (Sivers), his therapist (Topart), his mother) is done through the videophone. He even has cybersex with computer-generated cybersluts. However his therapist wants to shake up Thomas’ routine, so he signs up Thomas to a computer dating club to form something approaching a relationship. At the same time, his insurance agent informs him that he is eligible to use “medical prostitutes” trained to “satisfy” the handicapped. But as he gets involved with Melodie (Pinglaut) from the “Catch-A-Heart” dating service and Eva (Yay) from Madame Zoe’s escort service, he finds that the videophone is becoming more of a restriction than protection. Thomas might be in love, but is it enough to escape the prison he’s constructed for himself?
[ad#longpost]This movie’s main theme is the odd mix of interaction and isolation that is a part of modern life. Most of our communication is handled through electronics: telephone, email, Internet chatting, etc. While this lacks the weight and depth of face-to-face communications, it does give the benefit of simply logging off, hanging up, or turning off if we tire of someone’s company for any reason. This movie uses an interesting technique to give the audience a sense of Thomas’s total reliance on electronic communications. We never see Thomas; only hear him, so we only see through his eyes to the all-encompassing video screen where Thomas interacts with the rest of the world and how people react to him. Obviously, there is very little action, but the fine acting and intriguing premise does keep your interest. I wish they went further with the concept, for example the malleability of reality experienced by Thomas through the video wall. I would like to have understood how Thomas’ phobias came about. Were they created by the society he lived in or were created by personal trauma? There are other themes over the power of large organizations controlling aspects of our lives “for our own good” and how our group activities are governed by the latest trends instead of actual community. These could have been explored more deeply, too.
The behind the scenes featurettes actually go into the making of the film instead of simply singing its praises. We learn that the director actually had the actor playing Thomas in a separate room watching the other actor on a monitor and the other actor also saw “Thomas” on a monitor as well. The actors can actually experience this type of interaction and can concentrate on their characterizations. The directors also changed the quality of the image to indicate the variety of the characters, from the quality of the focus to the mobility of the camera. The creation of the “Sextoon” sequences was also unusual since they didn’t use motion capture techniques. They had an actress for the voice of facial movements and a separate actress for the body movements. The animators studied their actions to get a better idea of what they needed to recreate. These show that Thomas In Love is an interesting film, but like Thomas, stays close to familiar territory.
As a result, it’s worth viewing, but it doesn’t quite make the leap to the reality of your video shelf.