This past weekend I watched Eva, a Spanish film that features an interesting depiction of robots in daily life. It stars Daniel Bruhl (probably best known as the lovestruck German sniper in Taratino’s Inglorious Basterds) as Alex, a roboticist who returns to his hometown after a ten year absence to finish work on an android project.
This film is beautifully acted by Bruhl and the entire cast and has good (if not great) special effects for the robots. In particular, Alex is provided a live-in android named Max (wonderfully played by Lluis Homar)and a nifty robot cat that follows him around. Others that seem to be based on BigDog and droid-like service robots roam the background while cars zip around with an electrical hum. Programming genuine people personalities seems a breeze thanks to an ornamental holographic display controlled with an unseen motion-capture device.
Ok, so things are about to get a bit spoilery so be forewarned. The technology that is presented feels quite plausible with one exception; I doubt that we will have androids that can so easily pass for humans as Max in the next thirty years. That said, the way the script inserts some of its sci-fi elements is half the fun. Max’s emotional intelligence level can be changed depending on the mood of his master, since he is not a “free” robot (which is illegal in this world). Early in, the film sets up an Asimov-like protocol for when A.I.s need to be shut down for good, which involves a simple spoken command.
Alex works on the SI-9 prototype (above photo) with the help of a young girl named Eva, who’s quirky personality he believes will generate an interesting android child. She’s played by Claudia Vega, and some of her amusing scenes reminded me of those by Natalie Portman in The Professional. She may be one to look out for in the future.
Eva is the daughter of Alex’s old love interest, and this is where things get a bit hazy. The scenes between Alex and his ex-lover (now married to his brother) are suitably portrayed, but it is never properly explained why he left her in the first place. And the fact he never heard about Eva during his absence despite a seemingly close relationship with his brother strains believability. In the end, the story that is told probably wouldn’t be all that interesting without the sci-fi window dressing.
Even if there are plenty of loose ends and the movie intentionally plays its cards too soon, I still enjoyed the imagery and the performances. As such, Eva is easy to recommend if you don’t mind watching a movie with subtitles. It just goes to show what can done with a little ingenuity even if you only have a (relatively small) budget of €7,000,000.
Stills to give you a taste of the film’s flavor: