Starring Graham Cawte, Francesca Burgoyne, Finian Nainby-Luxmore, Candice Palladino
Directed by Adam Nelson
Here’s a first: I’m actually watching a short film. That’s a lie, I’ve seen a couple but I’ve never taken much notice beyond what’s on the surface. Emotional Motor Unit is my first attempt at dissecting a heavily-themed and symbolic film.
I’ll be honest and say they don’t interest me too much. I’m very simple when it comes to my entertainment, but I was curious as to what was going on behind the scenes when Emotional Motor Unit was first conceived. To start from the top and work my way down, the film follows the unnamed writer (Cawte), who is promoted to the role of ‘author’ with the company and must face his absent emotion for the first time in his life. When he hits a total creative blank he’s assigned a titular E.M.U (Burgoyne), and through their interactions he’s able to develop creativity for the first time in his life.
It’s not all smooth sailing. He struggles constantly while balancing his creative output with these suppressive pills that have the film visually lacking (deliberately, of course). The writer is surrounded by black, white and grey, and it’s only after the introduction of E.M.U that we see any colour at all in her violet eyes. Of course he begins experiencing life from her perspective;
E.M.U has not been suppressed by the company or any outer influence. She demonstrates a childlike innocence, showing curiosity about the world around her and wanting to explore. At the same time the writer hides behind a literal mask, not daring to show his true self and considering a greater existence to be dirty. But slowly his interactions with the E.M.U have him shedding layers and uncovering his true self. When the E.M.U paints a portrait of pills it’s clear she’s doing more than just painting a pretty picture, and the symbolism is not lost on the writer or myself. With E.M.U in his life the writer smiles and shows emotion for the first time as he begins to question the norm as she does.
But a horrible lesson in life is all good things come to an end. The writer goes through a period of literal mourning. Not just for E.M.U but for the loss of his creativity and emotion. Underneath this, however, he learns the age old adage that it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved before, and with that in mind this transition becomes almost therapeutic. He develops a whole new perspective, and when he returns to the company with his assignment it completes his transition into a living, breathing human being.
At least that’s what I took away from the film. For all I know I’m way off the mark and am just rambling like an idiot, which can happen with me. But life is one constant discovery of the self, and as individuals, when society is telling you how to be entirely the monotony can take its toll. But nothing ventured is nothing gained. You have to take the negatives with the positives if you want to experience, and we have to go through these experiences to be human. To avoid all that is to avoid living your life.
So, my review of the film. Did I like it? The answer is still that I have an unresolved issue with short films. Emotional Motor Unit may not have helped me figure what that is, but it evidently got me thinking, which I believe is the point of any short film. So subjectively it’s a roaring success. Objectively I’m still thinking about it.