Imagine an app that makes all your decisions for you, and you don’t even have to ask it anything. It just… knows.
The best sci fi is tantalisingly close to a sort of reality, and You Have Been Chosen certainly fits the bill. It’s both frightening and highly desirable.
It’s a very meta proposition, a film about a smartphone, as You Have Been Chosen was entirely shot on a Samsung Galaxy S8.
An invitation to use the app – with the line “You have been chosen, someone you know has recommended you” – pops up on an iPhone beloning to office worker Fiona (Zoe Cunningham).
She’s terrible at decision-making, and choosing which drink to buy from her local coffee shop takes her so long her latest attempted purchase probably predates the flat white controversy. She’s also stuck in a massive rut, with a picky, dull boyfriend, a boring job, and colleagues who take advantage of her.
After answering a few questions about herself and her family, Fiona’s app knows enough about her to tell her what to do in every situation, from the mundane to the vital.
Some of the decisions are huge, but Fiona’s acceptance of them seems to bring her as much relief as worry, once she becomes used to simply going with the flow. And it’s an attractive prospect, as long as it remains more comfort blanket than controlling. When it’s on Fiona’s side it’s like having a Mean Girl for a best friend.
Simon Horrocks’ film is a perfect combination of wish-fulfilment and waking nightmare, a very believable idea that’s never pushed too far. A mini parable on giving too much power to the faceless gizmos that already rule our lives, it shows how easy it is to become dependent. I wonder also if Horrocks was influenced by those famous experiments that seek to find out just how far we will go if someone, or something, tells us to.
In a way it reminded me of Alice Lowe’s excellent feature Prevenge, about an unborn baby telling her mother to do increasingly dreadful things (there’s probably a link to be made between both films regarding having one’s life ruled by something very small).
Short micro/no budget films can look empty, but the office and cafe scenes always look entirely realistic. The supporting cast too, while their characters are mostly annoying, are never stereotypes, even if they appear only briefly (I did like Paul the smarmy boss, even if The Decider didn’t).
Cunningham is superb as Fiona, who just needs a little help with self-confidence and making the bigger decisions to get her out of her life rut, but who is pushed further than she wants to go. She’s entirely natural and believable – I loved her initial attempt to buy that bloody coffee (I may be slightly faster than her at ordering but I also almost always suffer Hot Drink Regret).
There’s a perfectly nuanced blossoming as Fiona moves from general confusion at life itself, to hope tinged with diffidence as The Decider starts opening her life and opportunities a little wider – and she takes us with her on every step of her journey.
- Interviews with You Have Been Chosen star Zoe Cunningham
- Interview with writer-director Simon Horrocks on smartphone movie-making, and watch Simon’s making of video.
You Have Been Chosen was developed as part of Simon Horrocks’ ongoing scifi series Silent Eye. You Have Been Chosen, and the second and third episodes, ReGen and The Unlocking Thought, are available now on Amazon UK and Amazon.com and in Germany.