Mnemophrenia really is a word, new to me. It’s the title of a sci-fi think piece from writer and director Eirini Konstantinidou. The film explores a psychosis that arises from advanced virtual reality (VR) technology, which causes people to be unable to distinguish between real and artificial memories.
Mnemophrenia is a sci-fi lovers dream: slick and full of cool looking tech. I found it mysterious. I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing was supposed to be real or someone’s VR memory. The film opens so many questions for debate in a world moving rapidly toward VR for so many purposes.
Part of the action takes place in a lab where Nicholas (Robin King) and Will (Jamie Laird) are working on a program called Total Cinema. They have different feelings about how the software will affect people with mnemophrenia. Nicholas has the condition and Will does not. There’s money involved in the launch of the product and in the direction of their arguments.
The woman pictured up at the top, Jeanette (Freya Berry), is having trouble because of her feelings for Douglas (Tim Seyfert), her VR friend. Her time with him has wrecked her marriage and estranged her from her toddler.
A third storyline involves a woman we never see except briefly in a mirror, Robyin (Tallulah Sheffield). We see her interactions with Charlie (Robert Milton Wallace), a VR support person who seems to be helping her deal with her impending demise.
I wasn’t entirely sure about what I should trust seeing in the film. From reading about it elsewhere I discovered that Jeanette, Nicholas, and Robyin were different generations of the same family, all afflicted with the psychosis.
When I looked up the director Eirini Konstantindou, I learned she is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Essex. On her bio page, she helpfully explains, “my first feature film “Mnemophrenia”, a self-reflexive film exploring artificial memories and their close relation to the medium of film. “Mnemophrenia” is a multi-generation-spanning three part anthology asking what-if about the impact of advanced virtual reality on human identity and society.”
Questions like what would happen if you could live inside someone else’s life are explored. Or what if you could control the memories someone has?
You can watch this interesting speculation on memory and VR at Amazon, Tubi, Apple TV, YouTube, or Google Play. It’s a quiet film and requires a lot from the viewer to understand. I don’t think it’s for everyone. But there are sci-fi buffs who are going to love it and memory scientists who will find much to ponder. If it appeals to you, I think more than one viewing would be helpful to catch the nuance from displays all around the screen.
Here’s the trailer.