The very best science fiction always looks at the technological issues of the day and expands on them to explore how they’re changing us. Having said this, Guy Moshe’s LX 2048 seems to take relevancy to an entirely new level. Though the film was developed and made pre-pandemic, LX 2048’s depiction of self-isolation and dependence on digital communication is not just timely.
It’s downright eerie.
Set in the near future, LX 2048 depicts a world where the ozone layer has been decimated to the point that humans cannot be outside in the daylight without wearing hazmat suits. As a result, from work to school to socializing, most people spend the majority of their time in the virtual realm. However, Adam Bird (James D’Arcy) still insists on engaging the ‘real world’. He goes to work and fights to keep his humanity in a world of artificiality. This becomes more difficult though when he learns that his heart is mysteriously failing and that he has been scheduled to be replaced by a cloned upgrade. In response, Adam fights to survive in a world where he has been deemed ‘unnecessary’.
Coming at a time when the world exists primarily in a digital realm under the blanket of a global pandemic, Moshe’s work could not seem more relevant. Written over a period of nine years, it’s frankly stunning to consider how accurate his vision of the future seems to be. While admittedly, the film takes a while to get going, Moshe’s script picks up as the film goes and and features some truly fascinating dialogue on what it means to be human in a digital world. In addition, D’Arcy’s work as the ever-shaken Adam is solid, especially when [spoiler] his clone arrives on the scene. [spoilers end]
In a world where kids attend school virtually and everyone works remotely, Adam is a man who insists on being present physically at work. As the electronic revolution grows, most people have become content to digitally ‘chip’ themselves away into immortality. Even so, despite the digital playground (and workspace) that has engulfed everyone around them, Adam recognizes that reality is tangible. For him, humanity and the physical world are intimately linked. Though others have ‘improved’ themselves through the art of cloning, Adam recognizes that there is something deeply powerful about living with our flaws. Admittedly, he may not like much about himself (or has been made to feel inferior by others) but he still believes that he matters.
Similarly, relationships have shifted dramatically in this vision of the world. Though he has three children with his wife Reena (Anna Brewster), Adam’s home feel particularly lonely. Because of the shift to the digital world, their engagement is primarily online as everyone exists in their own space with VR headsets covering their eyes and ears. Though they live together, their physical presence is no longer required. In fact, speaking to someone in-person feels invasive and individual space is coveted. Even the act of sex has become a primarily individual experience as they engage through digital and technological stimulation. (However, somewhat ironically, it’s worth noting that sex also still demands monogamy here. This unspoken moral code is apparent when Adam’s wife becomes infuriated by his willingness to have sexual fantasies with a digital adulteress yet she refuses to be with him physically herself.)
For Moshe, Adam still wishes to be that ‘first man’. Not the only man, mind you. Adam wishes that others would also break the trends. Even so, Adam recognizes that there remains something intrinsically pure within human life, despite its brokenness and blemishes. He recognizes that relationships without presence lack intimacy and that cloning to ‘perfection’ doesn’t necessitate a soul. In this way, Adam’s great loss seems to be that the world around him is pressuring him to follow them blindly into the digital abyss. Though he yearns for personal intimacy, no one—not even his own family—is willing to join him.
In essence, Adam can no longer find an Eve.
Engaging and powerfully prophetic, LX 2048 serves as a reminder of how we desperately need one another in the physical realm. As Adam fights to retain the soul of humanity, he understands that the digital realm ultimately provides an empty substitute for the real thing. Coming at a time when our socially-distant lives have been taken over by digital platforms, Moshe offers something truly unique and important that calls us to remember who we are behind the screens. Because, for Moshe, who we are is not determined by our profile pics or avatars.
For Moshe, true humanity connects our bodies and our souls.
To hear our conversation with writer/director Guy Moshe, click here.
LX 2048 is available on VOD on Friday, September 25th, 2020.