Short Film Review: Nano (2017)
The concepts and effects on display in the futuristic film Nano are slick and intriguing, but the current iteration of the film is too short to feel satisfying.
My last short film review of The Ningyo lead to an interaction with Mike Manning of BME Films. He clued me into a short film he had released in June of this year called Nano. Some of the blurbs accompanying the film pegged it as Cyberpunk and Film Noir. Hey, that seems right up my dystopian alley!
While I am all kinds of flattered to be Twitter Famous™, this review will be unbiased. That being said, if you’re a filmmaker looking to get your product in front of more eyes, I’d be tickled pink to see new films and interesting ideas to review.
In the near future an elective human enhancement called Nano is on the cusp of becoming mandatory. The technology allows for criminal situations to be deescalated through induced paralysis. The upside for non-violent police interactions is tremendous, but the loss of personal freedom and autonomy is terrifying. While America debates the pros and cons of the nanotechnology, a group of “hacktivists” set out on their own to hamstring the product’s roll-out.
One of the high points of the film is how it tackles it’s themes. By landing the ethical and legal questions of Nano 2.0 squarely in the center of hot-button issues, the arguments for and against the tech become less cut and dry. Nano can prevent violent crimes, and has even gone hand in hand with a repeal of the 2nd amendment. It is touted as being highly effective at curtailing police-related shootings. All of these topics set up shop right in the middle of a partisan-politics minefield. You could see liberal and conservative voices arguing both for and against such a measure. It makes you address the issue of government mandated augmentation in a way that adds some grey to what is often a black and white topic in sci-fi.
Nano feels like a teaser; a little treat meant to awaken your senses. It is visually slick and sexy, with cool sci-fi effects. The premise is intriguing, and it doesn’t come across as too philosophically abstract or as a ham-fisted polemic. The acting was engaging, with the exception of Officer Roth. While Sebastian Vallentin had the physicality and presence I wanted in his character, his delivery felt clunky.
It’s a shame then, that for now the experience remains a teaser.
This film is a proof of concept, just like the last short film I reviewed. With The Ningyo, I felt like I got a full story at the end of its run time. Honestly, I’m not even sure I would want a longer version of that film (definitely something in the same world, but maybe not just a longer version of the same story). With Nano, the film feels like a promo. I got the sensation of watching the first part of an hour long show that ends at the first commercial break, or possibly the opening animation to a blockbuster video game. The Ningyo could stand on its own, Nano can’t.
Fleshing out the Skeleton
That being said, I hope this proof of concept gets picked up by someone. It is pregnant with potential, both visually and thematically. We need all the good sci-fi we can get, and movies like Arrival and Life show that audiences crave works that are both beautiful and intellectually stimulating.
At the end of the day, I can’t recommend Nano as a self contained viewing. If you are looking for a complete story, look elsewhere. If you are looking to fund exciting new sci-fi, however, please do look at Nano. And be sure to tell me when the finished product hits theaters.