We’re introduced into this world in a strange-looking mannequin shop and a girl named Emma making out with an unidentified coworker (played by Alison Pill of The Newsroom and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, two movies that have as much in common with this movie as the Ninja Turtles has with a runway contest.) We then learn these are actually sex dolls that are manufactured. In her spare time, she draws a comic of this slutty film director Edward (played, or voiced, by Gael Garcia Bernal. I’ll let you pick the definition.) One day, Emma feels a desire to be more like a cartoon superhero she imagines she could be, but feels she needs to change her body to do so. Meanwhile, there’s a young aspiring Latina author named Michelle (Mariana Ximenes) whose spouse Dale says even though an editor is interested in the first chapters of a book she hasn’t finished yet, she’s kidding herself because of not being the best at English, so she takes a plane to get away from it all, and focus on her masterpiece. How these stories are connected you’re supposed to find out as instances get weirder and weirder for for Emma, Edward and Michelle simultaneously.
I’m now at the age where I understand the extent of the lives of certain people, especially those who like binge drinking and the ticklish zaniness that arises on another’s touch. That lifestyle’s certainly not for me. So its display of nudity and unashamed one-nighters had a chance to kill the film for me.
But you know two things this whole sex doll thing reminded me of? In Melissa McCarthy’s A+ Spy movie, she mentions, in response to her cat-lady secret identity, “Maybe I should just be married to one of the dolls, just to make it extra sad”, in disdain. The fact there’s a business for these dolls, especially ones of girls, and that there are men who will use them to play pretend in ways that would constitute sexual assault; it all feels sad when thought of that way. But also, the fact Emma works at this mannequin factory but also on her spare time draws surreally beautiful comic art sends a sneaky message through: that there are Canadian artists out there who, if given the opportunity, could change the world, but they’ll often have to go into a side job that’s really nutty (no pun intended) compared to their dream job. And bottom line: this is all so refreshingly original!
Emma later ends up making a choice she really regrets and people mock her for it, including the perpetrator. That was certainly the best part of the film because I felt horrifically sorry for her. She feels like she got sucked into an industry dominated by men that would prefer to look at her rather than help her and be civil about it. I want everyone reading this to know if someone says your body, male or female, is ugly and would be better off changed, they are perverts who don’t deserve the attention of a pomegranate bug and they’re wrong. Never feel like you’re imperfect and that you have to make yourself “better” for someone who doesn’t like the real you. Nobody’s perfect, and that makes everyone special. I like the idea this movie might help viewers understand this, especially since it’s advertised towards people who will likely have a day where they’ll lightly consider it.
This movie is definitely original enough for its presence to stand out longer than films I’ve given better grades. Edward the film director I don’t know the process the filmmakers took to get his story in comic book form like it is, but the organic 2D animation with simple colour mashups is refreshing and easy to look at. Also, I’ve been learning about commodities and the audience market in school, and his story about making a passionate drama that defies movie conventions is definitely a neat idea. The actual reason behind his sudden decline in skill (which involves a word not many people like to say out loud in public) is kind of weird and almost irrelevant-feeling, but we see what he was aiming for, and despite the fact I agreed with the criticisms it got, I could also understand Edward’s sadness of rejection. Then when a different angle was put up, I felt the same head-slap that Edward gives to himself. One of the subjects of his film involves lesbians and ambiguous endings, and he uses an artsy explanation, and I followed along with it.
Michelle’s willingness to do whatever it took to finish her craft was also, as an aspiring author, inspirational...basically, there’s a lot here that I loved seeing on screen, as someone who appreciates art, especially when it’s Canadian art that dares to be both different and entertaining, and even weird...But there are some stops.
The first ten minutes feel a little tired, and there’s a case of about two sex scenes too many. I also wish Emma’s conflict was established a little better, and this ending confrontation was a little overly bizarre, even in this kind of movie. But as the film goes along and we figure out the resemblance to these three protagonists and their strange, scattered relationship with one another, we wonder to ourselves what’s real and who is the big primary. One second the movie turns sensitive, the next it’s snarky and silly, but its satirical syncretism of the genres and what it ends up doing make that fact not really a flaw.
The Fifty Shades movies took my expectations for daring fiction and threw them out a 12-story window. But Zoom managed to find some of the pieces and hide them in a doll’s mouth. That doll then said, “You’re soft” and brought it out lightly enough...Pfffft. Hahahahahaha