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Technotise: Edit & I
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by Jay Seaver

"Smart & exciting Serbian sci-fi."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2010 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Early on in "Technotise: Edit & I", the Edit of the title offhandedly mentions that one of her pet robots is named "Otomo", a reference that is apt for all that it is obvious: Like the famed Japanese director, Aleksa Gajic has adapted his own science fiction comic series into an animated film, and done so in a way that not only avoids Otomo's worse excesses, but also brings to mind another recent animator out of Japan, Makoto Shinkai, in that he has made a movie that belies its very small crew.

The year is 2074, the place is Belgrade, and student Edit (voice of Sanda Knezevic) is making another stab at passing her final exam in psychology. Though she's not qualified to practice, a research firm takes her on as an intern to baby-sit Abel (voice of Igor Bugarski), a mathematical savant who has been autistic ever since making a breakthrough about the nature of the universe. Things soon get very strange, though - just looking at Abel's work has an unexpectedly strong effect on her, and when she has a black-market chip implanted in her nervous system to help with memory retention, she has strange side effects - hallucinations, erratic behavior, and anemia that leads her to take an unusually high amount of iron supplements. By the time she starts to figure out what's going on with her, the company's head of security, Sergey (voice of Srdjan Miletic) is after her, and her group of friends - mainly boyfriend Bojan (voice of Nikola Djuricko) and best friend Broni (voice of Marija Karan) - may not be up to the challenge of facing down an international biotech company.

Gajic is Serbian, and the bulk of his work has been with French publishers (though the original Technotise story was first published in Serbia), and Technotise: Edit & I absolutely feels like a European sci-fi graphic album come to life: Plenty of detail but also a style that values cartooning over life-like visual realism, grand-scale concepts and action, and a good dollop of sex and comedy in even the most bloody or serious tales. The film lacks a bit of the sometimes quite crowded visual detail found in many bandes dessinées, but the look and tone is right on.

It's really fun science fiction, too. It never just feels like the present with advancement in one area; there's lots of nifty detail in every little corner of the screen. There's logic and cool ideas to the storyline, but Gajic manages to sidestep a lot of the pretension that often comes with this subject matter. He makes what happens to Edit seem cool and creepy at the same time, and also gives us a very cool futuristic chase scene or two - after giving us a little demo of how the physics of these hovering devices work.

The animation is a bit of a mixed bag at times. It looks to be mostly digital, though with a hand-drawn aesthetic. Gajic and company did not have a lot of money to make their movie - its sub-$1M cost will probably pay for, what, a minute of special effects in the already-optioned live-action remake? - and sometimes you can see a little bit of roughness around the edges. The characters are expressive, though, both from nice art and good voice-acting by the Serbian cast. I don't consider it a bad thing that I wished for an English dub at a couple points, though - consider the scene where Edit outlines her plan to rescue Abel, for instance, where locking my eyes on the subtitles made me miss some of the funny, contradictory action going on until the sequence was halfway through.

As mentioned, "Technotise" has a Hollywood remake coming up, one that is likely to be cool in its own way. It won't be Gajic's (exciting) vision unfiltered, though, while this one can't be anything but.

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originally posted: 07/14/10 02:46:09
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

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