The Human Surge

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Eduardo Williams

Starring

Domingos Marengula Sergio Morosini Shine Marx

Anticipation.

Preceded by a fearsome reputation following its festival run.

Enjoyment.

Yes, it’s impenetrable, but in a really interesting and unique way.

In Retrospect.

A thinker, but leaves both a cerebral and emotional impression.

Eduardo Williams’ striking feature debut ruminates on life and leisure in a digital world.

Sometimes you’ve just got to go with a movie, even when it appears to be gesturing that you jog off in the opposite direction. Resist those bodily impulses telling you to turn away from the screen and just keep questioning what you’re watching and why.

Eduardo Williams’ The Human Surge is cinema as a double dare. He asks: if you can see what it is I’m doing, can you admit to be gleaning any pleasure from it? Spanning three disparate locales (Argentina, Mozambique, the Philippines), Williams captures the things that young people do when they have nothing to do. There’s lots of wandering, there’s some idle chatter, there’s a little bathing in a creek, and even some public urination.

Technology offers a gentle respite from the numbing boredom as teens hook up with likeminded peers across the globe and perform tit-for-tat sex rituals in front of a webcam. The images captured by the director (although ‘director’ doesn’t seem like the correct word for it) are confrontational, grotty and abrasive as he attempts to emulate the scuzzy visuals captured by the budget equipment owned by his subjects.

There’s no Steadicam here as the camera bobs and nods inelegantly while tracing people as they wander through streets, jungles and fields – the human factor is always emphasised. The title may refer to the idea that the world feels fuller now that gadgets can signpost our identity and corroborate our existence.

It’s freewheeling to the point of monotony, yet the droning longueurs are all part of the film’s subtle exploration of boredom, individuality and our abusive relationship with technology. The final section is also the toughest as Williams seems determined not to force a connection or emphasise a theme. Then when it comes to a climactic coda set in an electronics shop floor, the film evolves into a surreal comedy tableaux that’s like Samuel Beckett playing Pong with Chris Marker. Weird shit, but good shit.

Published 6 Jul 2017

Tags: Eduardo Williams

Anticipation.

Preceded by a fearsome reputation following its festival run.

Enjoyment.

Yes, it’s impenetrable, but in a really interesting and unique way.

In Retrospect.

A thinker, but leaves both a cerebral and emotional impression.

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