‘Connected’ is a story with two unfolding plots. One is Science Fiction and the other is a love story. But the love story gets in the way of the Science Fiction story and the glacial pace of the telling gets in the way of the love story. This film is nearly two hours long and everything of value could have been told better in a 25 minute length. The film is written, directed, produced and edited by Dave Ash as his first film.
Rating: 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10.
John Cooper (played by Clarence Wethern) is a software designer working on producing a machine that can pass the Turing Test. This is a test of human intelligence simulation software that asks can a machine carry on a conversation with a human and the human will not know if he speaking to a person or a machine. Through an explanation involving DNA, John’s company seems on the verge of producing a machine that will pass the test. But John is emotionally disconnected from humanity and is toying with ideas of suicide. Then John’s outlook changes. He meets attractive, intelligent Emily Christiansen (Bethany Ford). They spend time together and, though awkward at first, are certainly interested in each other, but Emily is reticent to let John come too close into her life. Once that is established, the film moves at a glacial pace.
While at heart there is a Science Fiction premise to this film, it is not really one engaged in new ideas. Instead, the film has expository dialog. John as a discussion with his psychiatrist. ‘Have you heard of Kurt Godel?’ ‘No.’ So John explains Godel’s proof to the psychiatrist. Frankly, I am a little surprised someone with enough education to be a psychiatrist would not have at least heard of Kurt Godel. Admittedly, this particular doctor seems in many ways to be clueless. Even more surprising is that John does know of Godel but mispronounces the name as if it rhymes with ‘yodel’. The explanations of science are of some interest though many of the viewers will already be familiar with some of the concepts. The story keeps promising to go somewhere, but never does. The viewer should not expect much of a conclusion to either the love story or the story of the development of the replication human intelligence. The focuses more on John than on the development of the artificial intelligence device and more on John’s predicament than his personality. We see a little more of Emily’s persona but it is left enigmatic. Emily’s story seems to focus on a scene toward the end of the film, but it even there is not clearly explained.
In the hands of cinematographer Jason P. Schumacher much of ‘Connected’ seems to be shot with a hand-held camera. This does not work for the film. Even with John and Emily standing still, the camera is not locked down and it jiggles around. The top of the frame often will come down and cut of the top of an actor’s head. In scene after scene, the camera seems to be misaimed. The sound direction seems better through most of the film, but one sequence shot in a movie theatre has the characters sound like they are speaking in a glass jar.
Moments in the dialog often go slowly with pregnant pauses, but which do not pay off dramatically. They made me wonder if somehow their dialog was supposed to be part of a real Turing Test. One place that the film does very well is that the people working for John’s company look the part, better than a Hollywood film would have. They look like people you might actually find working for such a tech company.
This is a first feature film for Dave Ash and for it he took four important functions behind the camera: director, writer, editor and soundman. As I frequently feel with the first film of a director who has several appearances of his name in the credits, he is spreading himself too thinly. Few new directors have the talent of an Orson Welles to be chief cook and bottle-washer on a film. Most film is a collaborative process. Doing so much is an ambitious undertaking, but it may not be well advised. I rate ‘Connected’ a 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 4/10.
Mark R Leeper