A spin instructor obsessed with self-improvement is drawn to an experimental treatment center.A spin instructor obsessed with self-improvement is drawn to an experimental treatment center.A spin instructor obsessed with self-improvement is drawn to an experimental treatment center.
The foundational idea feels to be not the sci-fi concept tying the film together, but the first few minutes where we are introduced to protagonist Jackie. Jackie is a beautiful woman, but she is aging and recognizes changes in her body she doesn't like. At the same time, her personal and professional life seem less than ideal, and no amount of self-help recordings, health drinks, or exercise is going to provide the course correction she wants. This very personal investment by the short in Jackie's character consumes most of its duration.
The second idea behind 'Connected' feels to be the very specific casting of Pamela Anderson as Jackie. Given the many shots that linger on Jackie's body it feels a bit inappropriate or even gross to emphasize this, both as a viewer and I would hope as a filmmaker. At the same time, Anderson has made many choices in her career that had the same focus, so who am I to judge? In any event, 'Connected' almost feels like it was written just for her. That Jane Fonda provides the voice on the self-help recording, or that actress Dree Hemingway - relative of some very noteworthy persons - co-stars, are notable for us in the audience, but tertiary concerns for the producers here.
The particular casting is the "connective" idea that conjoins the foundational idea of the character to the structural idea of the short, the sci-fi consideration that makes 'Connected' what it is. Or, at least, in theory that's how this film seems to have been conceived - but in practice, it does not present that way. 'Connected' spends so much time introducing us to Jackie, her body, and the ways she feels disconnection in her life, that by the time she "connects," there's only about 1 minute left for the audience to soak in the Big Idea. To keep with the metaphor I somehow began with, it's like pouring all one's resources into the foundation for a building, but then constructing a house that isn't even 1-story tall, but more like half a story. It's there, but what are we supposed to do with it, exactly?
'Connected' looks great; the production value is pretty high. The seven or so minutes that tell us about Jackie's life have a certain amount of shade or shadow to them, or at least colors appear less vibrant. And of course once Jackie visits the getaway where she will Connect, the picture is suddenly awash in bright whites and sunlight, just in case we didn't get the message about renewal and transformation. The computer graphics that visualize "the connection" look pretty sharp. Well done, I guess. However.
There's nothing inherently wrong with spending as much time as this does simply introducing the protagonist, but it is so heavily accentuated that it seems there was no time or energy left to develop the "connection" that 'Connected' wants to be about. As a result, well made though this is from a technical standpoint, it feels less like a complete feature, and more like a short that is a mere proof of concept for a longer, more fully realized film.
But it's not. So we have a problem.
I do like the ideas 'Connected' plays with, but as it stands, it's very incomplete.
- May 5, 2021