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2 reviews, 3 user ratings

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Thomas in Love
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Virtually sci-fi."
4 stars

Just so you’re not mistaken, Thomas in Love is Belgian, not French! I made the mistake of saying it was French to a Parisian cinephile, only to promptly be corrected. Although it may be in French, the spoken language, the film was given birth to in the same place as Everybody’s Famous, only the language spoken in that was Flemish. Aside from shared origins, there are few other similarities, but the distinctions point out what can make one movie simply okay, and the other good.

Only heard, but never seen, Thomas (voice of Benoît Verhaert) is a 33-year-old agoraphobe who has been inside his apartment without leaving for the past eight-years. Well, who needs to go outside when you have everything you could possibly want in front of you with the click of a finger or a verbal order on your “visiophone”—part telephone, part internet, part television, etc. Next to everything, that is, everything but a decent supplant for sex. Since Thomas will not allow anyone (including his mother) into his apartment, he resorts to using Clara, a 3D buxom sexpot who can defy gravity. But his psychiatrist recommends that in order to recover, he must get involved with online dating services or a health coverage-funded prostitution service. Following a couple mini-online flings and flirtations, Thomas finds himself pining for one of the prostitutes, Eva (Aylin Yay) who doesn’t want a thing to do with him. Thomas in Love can fairly be classified as being somewhat of a sci-fi film, set in the not-too-distant future. Director Pierre-Paul Renders makes his debut film with a claustrophobic twist by having the whole visual canvas depicted and conceptualized by seeing only what Thomas sees on his visiophone. It certainly cultivates an ambiance of isolation and seclusion that Thomas has sought or requires to fend off his phobia, but it adds another flavor for the audience member who feels cut off by the outside world. Though the idea may not sound horribly original, Thomas in Love almost serves as a social comment—at least against us Americans (though I don’t think this is an attack on us)—of how we spend so much times ourselves in front of the computer screen or the television. Convenience weakens people, and what is a social life when going outside consists of purchasing a bodysuit that will transmit cyber sex for when you’re back at home? It’s no longer a pastime, but rather a reliance. The film takes place over several days, maybe even weeks, but it is easily condensed and blurred into a matter of an hour-and-a-half, which is utmost and insanely realistic and possible, considering how time really does blend together when you set yourself down for entertainment from one of those media. Our lack of boredom or lack of differentiation of time in which the movie takes place is the perfect illustration of that blurring haze that constitutes for so much of the fun we seek ourselves. Companies like NetZero or Blue Light are unrealistic—and they know it—when they offer you 10 or 12 free hours a month; and by knowing that that time isn’t fully going to secure your online time for a month, that’s where they get you to buy their service. Even 40-hours a month is not a lot of time for an average person to be on the internet, which means that you would have less that 2-hours a day if you were to use it everyday. So when Thomas’ adventure lacks time continuity or progression and flies by so fast, it is a mirror image of our society’s obsession and, I suppose, even illness. Renders makes perfect comedic use of the technological innovation (probably inspiring the creation of something similar no doubt, or at least speeding up its arrival) but is also a unique, acute examination of an ill man and the suggested forms of cure (not meaning prostitution necessarily, but of his gadget). However, the connection speed slows down and the overall picture begins to pixilate when his main-cyber-squeeze is turned in for another and he falls in love with the prostitute. The understanding of his sudden love for her is never explained or developed, so when it causes him to react in such an extreme way, it doesn’t fit his character and it doesn’t make much sense. Thomas is without motivation for his action—even under the wing of love— and it is that absence of believing that he would be in love with this character that makes it seem like nothing more than an “i-hoax,” if you will. But still, an amusing and “timeless” one.

With Magali Pinglaut and Micheline Hardy.

Final Verdict: B+.

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originally posted: 09/17/01 13:38:14
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User Comments

3/02/02 Unagiboy Very creative. Getting attached to a character you don't see is quite a feat. 4 stars
10/01/01 joseph khoury nice 5 stars
8/29/01 Frobozz It was a good film -- odd, bold, unusual. The final scene, in particular, was a nice touch 4 stars
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  03-Aug-2001 (NR)



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