A Better You is a very Philip K. Dick like tale set in a future that could very well come true. In this world, where apparently social awkwardness has skyrocketed, people are replacing themselves with androids, known as Better You. It’s what it says on the tin – they are you, but without those things letting you down, they are more charming, can dance unlike you and never let anything get to them.
Basically, they are not socially awkward. In this world, we simply follow a man wanting to date a woman and take her to the big dance – he decides to use one of these Better You’s to make the date as perfect as he can make it…until it goes wrong.
A Better You is a charming little chimera of genres. Its part sci-fi, part comedy, part romance and all with an alternate period aesthetic. I don’t say that as a negative because of how charming it is. Usually a film that tries to balance so many different elements finds itself crushed under the weight. That isn’t the case here for two simple but effective reasons. The first is the likable characters, who the film wisely focuses on over the plot. The second is the consistent visual style.
Visually we are looking at what I believe to be a punk style called Atom Punk, not dissimilar from what you may find in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow or, more recently, the videogame Bioshock Infinite. Everything feels like it comes from the 1950’s or earlier. People dress as they would back then, the TV is a big box featuring a grainy black and white image and even the architecture is reminiscent of the time. There is the odd blimp floating in the sky in most shots.
But there is also computers, social chatrooms and other such advanced technology, such as androids. I think the last time I saw a style like this was in Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water. I don’t say that lightly because the visuals are worthy of a director of such talent.
The characters are charming and likable, if not all that relatable. The actors do a great job, especially our lead, who is playing two roles for most of the film. It’s fun to see this awkward character interact with something that is meant to be an improvement on him and see him learn lessons about himself.
That being said, while we sympathize with their struggle and the basic level of them being socially awkward, there was something ironically robotic about them. They felt like caricatures more than they did actual characters. It made them feel a little hard to properly relate to.
It’s certainly a film I appreciate on a technical level more than I do a story level. It’s nice and pleasant. It’s just a lovely film to watch. In times like this, it is nice to watch something that makes you feel warm inside. It is very predictable and not exactly the deepest film, with the messages being a little too on the nose. But that isn’t always a bad thing.
If you have fifteen minutes and need something wholesome, this film fits that bill perfectly.
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