Daft Punk’s Electroma
Certain films excel as midnight movies. 80’s comedies are typical staples, as is anything filmed in 3-D. I myself tend to lean towards cheesy action and kung fu movies, as well as the occasional splatter film. But recently more and more studios are taking an interesting approach to midnight films, as they are now releasing smaller “cult” films or productions they would have otherwise shelved in some warehouse, allowing them at least one moment of opening night glory in the belief that a limited release in multiple markets might create enough buzz to drive DVD sales of what otherwise would have been a direct to video product.
In the past two years Firecracker, Feast, Evil Aliens, and Dynamite Warrior all were theatrically released as midnight movies. Even the much maligned Fox film Idiocracy, which was quickly pulled after a dubious limited release, was touring the midnight circuit a mere month later. All this made me quite excited when I heard about Daft Punk’s Electroma. A film festival favorite for the past year, it is receiving a limited distribution as a midnight movie before getting a wide DVD release later this year.
Daft Punk’s Electroma is the story of two robots (the band members, played by Peter Hurteau and Michael Reich) on a quest to become human. But when their initial attempt backfires they set off on a journey to discover humanity, wherever it may be.
Before we begin I should set a few things straight lest you turn on the film and this reviewer for lack of disclosure. If you go to this movie hoping to listen to a host of ear catching, toe tapping Daft Punk songs you will be sorely disappointed. Rather than include their own music Daft Punk has chosen instead to use the works of artists who influenced them such as Todd Rundgren, Brian Eno, and Jackson C Frank. Oh yeah, the film is very slow … and silent.
Oh come on. At least read the whole review before you surf to something more likely to hold your interest, like the latest Rotten Tomatoes rating of Sydney White. Oh, did I offend your delicate sensibilities? You know, that is what is wrong with young people today, just because a film has no dialogue and the occasional ten minute tracking shot of a car driving through the desert you assume it must be boring so you go check out some crap remake of an overrated Disney flick. And I swear to God if you dare to even think about looking up the show times to Dane Cook’s latest release it is over between us. Now I will admit that such esoteric fair as Electroma is probably better suited for an afternoon viewing rather then at midnight in front of hundreds of drunken idiots, but if you can stay awake and sober you are in for a real cinematic treat.
The cinematography in Electroma is astoundingly beautiful. Using stark scenery as a foreshadowing backdrop, Electroma is able to tell its rather simple story with surprising depth, warmth, and affability. And while the film resorts to blatant and literal black and white imagery the themes portrayed on screen are not so simple to identify and resolve.
Though what I found most enjoyable were the moments of honest humor sprinkled throughout the film. In spite of the style used to tell the narrative, filmmakers Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo were kind enough to add much needed levity so viewers would not be buried under an avalanche of ethos. These welcome oasis of mirth were a welcome respite for what is otherwise a bleak and somber piece. But they are used so deftly that they don’t disrupt or distract from the natural flow of the film, but rather add graceful warm touches that act as outlines of the version of humanity the heroes are so desperately searching for.
This is a film whose heroes know they are not human, yet yearn for that imperfection. They know they will not be complete unless they become what they could never be. Even so they set out on a journey that will inevitably result in failure. In a jaw droopingly stunning final shot their self-discovery is ultimately realized, yet it remains completely oblivious to those who so desperately craved it. But is the tragedy the ultimate fate of their bodies, or their souls?
What, that still isn’t good enough reason for you to watch this film? Fine, I’ll do it your way then. There is a giant vagina, so big it would give Johnny Wadd an inferiority complex, in this movie. There, are you happy now? Now if you will excuse me I need to go take a shower. This review has just left me feeling dirty all over.