One of the most beautiful things about the science fiction genre is it’s malleability. It can go in almost every direction, be it high fantasy sci-fi, or in the case of this week’s short, an intimate interpretation of a rather real piece of subject matter. Joe and Mary’s Kid is about a couple who have not been able to conceive a child (in direct contrast to their namesakes’ capacity for spontaneous/immaculate conception), nor have they had success with adoption. To satiate his parental need, Joe invents a robotic child named Izak, and while his attempt to make a child substitution is completely earnest, the repercussions of his creation start to ripple throughout the struggling family’s everyday life. Izak is not a child, no matter how much Joe is blind to the fact; however, it remains an all too real factor in every interaction between Izak and Mary.
The short’s leading actors, Geraint Hill (Joe) and Marley Hamilton (Mary), deliver very strong performances as the two diverging and emotionally damaged partners. The film itself is expertly shot by Adrian Peckitt, images that are married perfectly with a score from David Pearce. Most of the credit, however, rests with writer/director Dan Rosen. The choices made in the making of this short that provide deep sorrowful subject material with a comedic levity turn what could be an ultra-depressing short into a high-minded dramedy. Scenes such as when Izak is given a puppy, whom he names ‘Affectionate Dog’, keep the film on a line that separates silly and serious. The same can also be said for the costume design of Izak, which is 60s era Dr. Who levels of corny. Quite literally, the robot resembles a series of cardboard boxes spray painted silvery-bronze. But this is not a fault. No, instead it only further exacerbates the split between Joe and Mary, one who sees a child while the other sees it for its more literal presentation.
Rosen is currently in discussion with a few producers in New York and London working on optioning the short for a full-length feature. As such, there remains significant meat to explore on the philosophical nature of an artificial child and our capacity for emotional attachment to the artificial. I look forward to seeing what comes of these talks and I wish him luck.
Check out the short below:
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