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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Thomas In Love
Directed by Pierre-Paul Renders
New Video Group 08/01 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - strong sexuality, language

Cultural commentator John Naisbitt calls our present moment in the West "the technologically intoxicated zone." We live in a confused and distracted situation in which individuals both fear and worship technology. Thomas In Love is an innovative and mesmerizing Belgium film that explores this twilight zone with creativity. Right under our noses, a new world is emerging as we become more and more immersed in mediated reality.

Thomas (voiced by Benoit Verhaert) is a 33-year-old agoraphobic who has a pathological fear of open spaces and human contact. He hasn't gone outside for eight years nor allowed anyone to enter his apartment. Deliveries of food and other supplies are made in the "air lock" between outer and inner doors.

All of Thomas's interactions with people are through his 24-hour-a-day "Visophone." We never see the lead character — only the screen which is his window on the world. Control is very important to Thomas but loneliness is slowly eating away at his soul. Suddenly, a whole new series of choices and possibilities become available to him.

Globale is an insurance company that orchestrates many of the details in Thomas's life. The diligent and skilled rep (Alexandre von Sivers) helps him find someone to fix his vacuum cleaner and alerts him to the fact that he's eligible to receive, without charge, the services of prostitutes trained by the state to help the psychologically impaired. This intrigues Thomas since he's growing tired of cybersex with Clara, an animated seductress.

Adding even more confusion to his life, his psychologist (Frederic Topart) has signed him up for an Internet dating service in order to pull him out of his doldrums. The only other human being on the planet who keeps in touch is Thomas's mother (Micheline Hardy) who calls regularly.

Although attracted to Melodie (Magali Pinglaut), a free-spirited poet he meets via an Internet dating service, she wants more intimacy than he is able to give. Then Thomas gets in touch with Eva (Aylin Yay), a depressed woman who is one of the government prostitutes. She mirrors his own uneasiness with human contact and his love of privacy. The more she tries to move away from him, the more he's attracted to her and willing even to consider the impossible — leaving his apartment as a sign of love for her.

Screenplay writer Philippe Blasband and director Pierre-Paul Renders have concocted an intriguing work of speculative fiction about modern loneliness, mediated relationships, cybersex, and the narcissism of cocooned individuals who are cut off from real flesh-and-blood encounters with others. In this tour of our technological immersion, they have come up with one of the most creative films of the year.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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