Genre: Drama, Science Fiction, Short.
Starring: Graham Cawte, Finnian Nainby-Luxmore, Candice Palladino, Francesa Burgoyne.
Year Of Release: 2016
Runtime: 22 Minutes
Director: Adam Nelson
Writer: Xènia Puiggrós
Synopsis: “The story of a lonely writer who learns what it is to be human by interacting with a machine known as the Emotional Motor Unit.” IMDB
“Emotional Motor Unit” is a short film put out by Apple Park Films Productions who have received wide success with their feature “Little Pieces”, so when given the chance to review their latest short I was excited. I will start by saying that this is my first time reviewing a short film, so not 100% sure how this will turn out, here it goes.
“Emotional Motor Unit” tells the story of a writer (Graham Cawte) whose job in to write about factual and albeit boring informative pieces for “the company” is tasked with writing some fiction. In order to illicit real emotion in a dystopian world in which people are controlled through drugs, the writer is given an “E.M.U” (Emotional Motor Unit) to help fuel his fictional juices.
The short touches heavily on the aspects of relationships, we have all felt alone in the world, albeit it for short periods, imagine NEVER having anybody then suddenly on day you have the perfect companion. Sounds like heaven right? Well so thought the writer too, to only have his dreams ripped from him once he finally reached an emotional point with his E.M.U, the film builds you up to pure heights of enjoyment and dare I say love, to the crushing realisation that he may never feel companionship again for as long as he lives.
The use of music without words but a calming tone really helps ground the film in a sort of serene reality, Imraan Hussain’s use of music is brilliantly calming to a point that you almost feel as though you are a part of the scenes. The music isn’t overpowering in any sense, the simplistic yet effective soundtrack adds a lot to the film. The entirety of the film has an extremely high quality about it, so much so you forget it’s a tiny budget project and get engulfed in the short itself.
The relationship between Cawte and Burgoyne is a joy to watch, they have a wonderful dynamic like I’ve not seen in a short. Burgoyne as Emu excels in showing a wide range of her abilities as she slowly learns adapting to her new world. Given their limited screen time together, you’ll be blown away by how much they can do with their short time. There is a wonderful interaction when Emu becomes more accustomed to her emotions and is making the most of them by playing with writer by throwing clothing at him, Burgoyne plays the robotic yet humanoid role brilliantly.
Overall I found the film to be a rousing success in what they were intending to execute, they aim to show you the the highest and lowest points of human relationships and that they do. The short is likely to draw comparisons with “Ex-Machina” and you can see why, exploring the relationship between A.I and man will always draw comparisons I believe, that in no way deters from the brilliance of the short instead enhances the experience to see what they were able to do with such a tiny budget and runtime. The short is very visual and draws you in with every scene, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Keep your eyes peeled for this one releasing in the future, I highly recommend checking it out, you will not regret it.