Tennessee [Jack Wedge, USA, 2017]
Surreal and futuristic animated fantasy Tennessee is a mesmerising and strangely uplifting depiction of love in a time of increasing social media obsession, A.I. technology and human disconnection. It is telling from the outset exactly where Jack Wedge’s fascinations lie, observing the conditions of modern society through the relationships we share with technology and the validation we seek from such an absurd construction. “Good morning, Tennessee”, begins a glitchy automated voice. “It is your birthday today. Happy birthday! I love you, Tennessee. You are my best and most special friend”.
It is very easy with this type of subject matter to be purely cynical, but Wedge’s preoccupations do not end here, instead choosing to believe in something more optimistic and sincere. Tennessee’s family is the microcosmic portrait of hyper-modernity, everybody is glued to a screen whether it’s the television, a smart device or a virtual-reality gaming headset (the latter in which her baby brother is violently invested).
Tennessee is unfulfilled, her daily ablutions and familial interactions seemingly futile in a household of zombified husks, where the feeling of affection eludes her. Thus, she resorts to bonding with Siri, who assists her in finding dates through online services. Running in secondary parallel to this narrative is the predictably similar lifestyle of a male ‘Stranger’ whom we also witness going through the motions of a thankless routine. Perhaps, in this age of information, overindulgence and technological excess these two people might still be able to find true love?
Wedge’s visual style is wildly expressionistic and primal in dialectical opposition to the futurist world in which the film resides, making for a refreshingly original animation. The scribbled pen strokes and vibrant colour palette give this short animation a real edge that might not be to everyone’s taste, but unquestionably helps in delivering a lucid statement on the world in which we live.