John (Clarence Wethern) is a computer programmer whose daily work routine includes sneaking off to the bathroom at 3pm to contemplate suicide with a gun in his mouth. A man whose fear of going crazy is slowly making him crazy, John is nonetheless good at his job, and he’s been brought on to a new project at work which includes backwards-engineering code from the human genome in an effort to create artificial intelligence human enough to be the first to beat the Turing test (a test where humans blindly interact with the artificial intelligence and then must decide whether they think the “person” they’ve been interacting with is human or a computer; if 30% or more think the computer is human, the artificial intelligence passes the Turing test).
With the pressure from work over his head, John finally meets up in person with Emily (Bethany Ford), a woman he met online. An English teacher who is a little skittish, Emily seems to enjoy the awkward aura around their meeting, and the courtship moves along. Emily has her own personal demons she’s working through, however, and as she and John move closer together, so too does the stresses surrounding them both grow.
Connected is a very good film about two people who just can’t seem to fully connect, anywhere. Despite John’s growing love and openness with Emily, she’s not fully there with him. She has things she needs to find an outlet for, and talk about, but she’s not ready yet. Or at least, not as ready as John seems. At the same time, John may not be as ready as he thinks he is.
It’s a complicated jumble, but that’s how it is sometimes, and Dave Ash’s film doesn’t play it in any other way. While some developments could be considered a bit too melodramatic, I don’t think they ring false. Considering everything we learn about John over the course of the film, even his more questionable moments fit in with the character that has been presented to us. The film, like most, is heightened reality, then, but it manages to be so without losing its authenticity.
While I’m sure there’s a parallel to be found between John’s work with the software and passing the Turing test and his own relationships with the people around him, I didn’t really connect with the film on that level. I’m sure an argument is there to be made, I just don’t think the work project became as dominant a part of the story as I had originally thought it would’ve, based on how the film was setting it up. Which is fine by me, because it was the relationship between John and Emily, and the awkward, wounded nature of their interactions, that kept me the most engaged.
Which means credit is due to Clarence Wethern and Bethany Ford’s performances. If you don’t find their courtship interesting, the film doesn’t really work. It’s a true challenge to portray characters that are predominantly closed-off without alienating the audience that is trying to engage with them, but Wethern and Ford both rise to the occasion.
Connected is the second film I’ve seen from filmmaker Dave Ash, and while I was not a very big fan of his first feature, Love: A Documentary, I truly did enjoy this one. It’s not necessarily a pleasant film; I don’t know that you watch Connected and come out of it feeling good, but I also don’t think that every film-going experience should be about feeling better. Sometimes just feeling something at all is enough, and I’d prefer a film that made me feel uncomfortable or unhappy over one that left me disinterested completely.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.