The Trouble With Being Born

Opens in Australian cinemas 3rd December.

* * * *

Austrian filmmaker Sandra Wollner’s challenging second feature is intelligent and thoughtful, legitimately subversive and transgressive, conceptually ambitious, but most of all, devastatingly sad. Straddling sci-fi, family drama and provocation, it operates as a darker B-Side to Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001).

In a world otherwise not markedly different from our own, realistic robots with advanced A.I. exist. In summer, in a suburban house in Austria, a man and his robot live together. He is middle-aged. The robot represents as female, around nine or so years old. Every facet of their relationship, and every facet of our response, is complicated.

This is one brave movie. It takes on massive thematic concerns unflinchingly. It will not be for everybody. It will not be for most. But it is guaranteed to make you think, and in particular, think about technology, grief, memory, and the conceptual link between them. It is a provocation only in that it dares to deal with possibilities we’d rather not think about, but it is not at all exploitative, grotesque or squalid. It is beautifully crafted along cool, formal lines, featuring exquisite naturalistic performances and sublime cinematography. It is rigorous, thoughtful and deeply heartfelt. One of the better films of the year, and almost certainly the most audacious.