The latest offering from the always interesting Spike Jonze (director of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things etc.) is the strange and beautiful 30 minute short I’m Here, which is available to watch in three parts on Youtube (you can watch them all below).
The film is based in a sister universe shared between humans and atavistic looking robots. The peculiar protagonist has a face that resembles an old PC, with large soulful rectangular eyes and a mouth that looks like a floppy disk drive. His love interest is like an old department store mannequin given a second life.
The relationship between the two strangely limbed lovers is told with simple and uncluttered elegance, with an anachronistic mise en scene curiously comprised of offcuts of popular culture. It’s the kind of crossover between invention and imagination more commonly depicted in anime such as Akira (1988), Steamboy (2004) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004).
I’m Here has a soft and sweet tone that is beautifully evocative and, in its final minutes, profound. Jonze has never strayed far from his music video roots, and the soundtrack is reminiscent of the childlike purrs and mellow chants that washed over the audioscape of Where the Wild Things Are (2009).
The sparse dialogue is naive but affecting:
“I had a dream last night and in my dream you needed a leg,” says Mr Blockhead (my name). “Everyone in the world was trying to give you that leg but I really wanted you to have mine. And in my dream you picked my leg. It made me so happy.”
Underneath the odd and elegent visual fusion of I’m Here is a simmering poignancy, a sadness alluded to in subtle ways, first and foremost through the protag’s large and searching eyes. That sadness spills into something deeply heartfelt by the end, the familiar but resonant message that love can be measured by many things, but one most of all: sacrifice.
Not bad, Jonze. Not bad at all.