A sci-fi of our time, Natalia Almada’s stunning documentary considers how an imitation of life is becoming second nature.
Josh Penn, Elizabeth Lodge Stepp
USA 2021. 81min
Almada’s cool, disconnected narration references another mother who competes for her children’s affection; she exists in the orbiting satellites, the cables that cross the ocean bed, the shifting hum of electricity. ‘What will be the landscape of their childhood memories?’ Almada wonders. Conveyor belts of scrap metal, a person swimming against a man-made current: the technological stride for simulation and convenience is endless. Bennett Cerf’s cinematography floats eerily into a raging forest fire and elsewhere captures light that evokes Edward Hopper. Layered and haunting, Dave Cerf’s sound design and Kronos Quartet’s score is as crucial to the storytelling as the film’s curious lens. Striking drone footage of man-made landscapes that detail nature’s infinite patterns evokes Koyaanisqatsi. However, Users goes beyond detached observations of humanity’s domination of nature, engaging instead with the ever-shifting definition of natural.
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The BFI Player screening on Thursday 14 October will be presented with optional closed captions for customers who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. We regret that an audio-description soundtrack for customers who are blind or partially-sighted customers will not be available as previously advertised. We apologise for the disappointment and inconvenience.
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