Film Review: Connected

ConnectedI’ve been doing some research into the issue of faith & technology (expect to read more of that in the coming months) and as part of that research loaded up a few documentaries.

First up was Connected. The film, made by Tiffany Shlain who as the founder of the Webby Awards seems well placed for this, is about modern life, all-pervasive technology and the issues that raises.

She opens the film with an interesting anecdote – failing to control the uncontrollable desire to check her email, a recognizable condition of the permanently connected & totally distracted. So how did it get to this?

It’s an interesting question but unfortunately Connected never gets close to providing an interesting answer. It fails for a number of reasons.

Firstly, Shlain gets diverted by her father, Leonard Shlain’s battle with cancer and her own personal struggles with conceiving a second child. The film then takes on an impossible burden, tribute to a beloved father, journal of a difficult pregnancy and deal with questions of technology.

Secondly, Connected fails from a lack of clarity – Shlain (and her brain surgeon father) sees connections everywhere and instead of trying to give an interesting answer to one interesting question it attempts the impossible again – perhaps everything is connected so we need a theory about everything. Connected proceeds to offer up an incredibly poor history of humanity while simultaneously throwing out theories about how too much left-brain thinking had advanced the world but now was ruining it and it was time to put things right by humanity engaging in some mass right-brained living for a change.

Thirdly, Connected fails from a lack of evidence – it’s all commentary, supposition and guesswork. The bees are disappearing, mobile phones might give you cancer, men use the left-brain while women are right-brained, auras are real, war is bad and wouldn’t it be nice if we all just got along. Well, yes, yes it would. No interviews, no facts and no argument does not make a compelling case.

Fourthly, Connected fails by being one-dimensional film-making. Between the home-footage shots of her dad and her childhood and an endless montage of archival footage we are subjected to an almost continues 80-minute voice from Shlain. It’s like listening to the opening voice-over of Sex and the City for 80 minutes only its liberal, self-obsessed New Yorker angst about what kind of world we are leaving for our children and segue from concerns about over-populating the world to the news that she’s expecting twins. There is no discernible trace of irony.

So, if you’re looking for an interesting documentary about technology and modern-life save yourself the 80 minutes of your life that you will never get back again and don’t watch Connected.

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