Francesca: What do you dream about?
Sheldon: What do you mean? We can’t dream.
Francesca: Course you can, you just make it up. I had the scariest dream last night. I was trying to get away, and these plants they’re attacking me, they were chasing me. It was so scary. And the vines were grabbing at me and they were trying to kill me and they were pulling me down on to the ground, they were trying to tear me apart. And right before I died, I just — I woke up.
Sheldon: Woah, you’re a good dreamer.
Spize Jonze’s I’m Here is a love story set in a world where robots and humans coexist. Sheldon is a lonely and retiring librarian with sad eyes, who spots Francesca as she drives past his bus stop. She notices him too, and eventually they meet and fall in love through a series of sun-soaked montages. Things turn sour though when Francesca has a series of accidents, and Sheldon decides to make some big sacrifices in order to keep her happy and healthy.
Beautiful to look at, the film’s palette of muted blues, greys, browns, and yellows is similar in tone to Where the Wild Things Are. Outside scenes are flooded with a white light that blanches everything it touches, and there’s an expected blue tone to indoor shots that suggests melancholy. The soundtrack accompanies the images well with music from indie noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells as well as an appearance by fake band The Lost Trees, who provide eerie love ballads to hover over intimate moments.
In his film Jonze explores the intense pain that comes with intense love. At the beginning we are shown a dream-like ideal; a man meets the perfect girl and forms the perfect relationship. Later this ideal is taken apart (if you’ve seen the film, excuse the pun), as acts of self-sacrifice are made literal. Giving and taking is part of life and relationships, and robots with detachable parts make easy metaphors for this concept. I’m not sure how we’re make to take the message of the film, whether it’s a celebration of selflessness, a comment on selfishness, or an objective study of devotion. Either way, the images are strong and stay with you regardless of the interpretation you choose to make.
As robots the characters are incredibly human, sometimes too much so. Despite outward appearances they express an abundance of emotions and exchange meaningful looks. It’s as though Jonze strives too hard to have us relate to these machines with feelings, and so drowns them in sentiment to the point where they become saccharine. Lacking edge, this young pair in love becomes the epitome of the indie image. This is where my criticism lies. There could have been more done with this story, and what was done could have been executed slightly better. Tending too far towards robots as romantic symbols of our modern age, where technology has replaced intimacy, Jonze’s short seems weighted down by its own schmaltziness.
FINAL VERDICT: ★★★