Film Pulse Score


  • Release Date: March 9, 2019
  • Director: Matt Kane
  • Runtime: 81 Minutes

This is a repost of our review from Cinequest 2019, Auggie opens on Friday.

It is too easy and frankly unfair to compare the dry, lifeless, science-fiction romance Auggie with Spike Jonze’s Her, the same concept rendered with tact, beauty, eloquence and poignant resonation. For his directorial debut, actor Matt Kane picked a premise that’s been explored and done so efficiently the first time around that anything that follows in its path is rendered moot by comparison.

Auggie asks the same questions of whether or not it is possible to engage in a boundary-pushing relationship with a computer program and have that unlikely situation be engaging, fulfilling and significant by societally deemed standards but with an almost passive interest in the implications these questions bring to light. In its current form, Kane’s debut is nothing more than a standardized Lifetime infidelity drama with the needless hook of AI glasses and techno masturbation shorts added into the mix.

The wearer of these glasses and shorts is Felix (Richard Kind), an architect (an overused movie job that really sets a tone for the rest of Kane’s script treatment) who receives a pair of Auggie glasses upon his retirement. A relatively new technology in this “near future” we are led to believe, these glasses sync with “your neural network” or something pseudo-scientific like that and create a projection in your field of vision of what your subconscious would most like to see.

AUGGIE Review 1
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As he is acclimating poorly to the sedentary existence of retirement and with his wife (Susan Blackwell) experiencing a sudden career surge that takes up all of her time, Felix gets curious as one does and tries on the glasses…only to be confronted by a beautiful woman 30 years his junior (Christen Harper). The film’s narrative suggests this apparently lucrative and ubiquitous technology has administrative or personal assistant applications, but it seems disproportionately that it is exclusively used for artificial companionship and as masturbatory aid. This begs the very troubling question of why his coworkers would buy him one, knowing full well he is married, because (of course) this leads to his infidelity.

The presentation of this tech screams “this is all we could do with our budget” as Auggie, as she is called, is rendered exclusively in POV shots without any display, technological artifacting or acknowledgment that this is a hologram-like abstraction. When Felix puts on what look like standard prescription spectacles, we do hear an appreciated dubbed “activation” sound effect, but other than that the film really fails to sell us on this technology or make us believe the scenes are not just two-shot setups of Kind and Harper talking to one another.

This surface-level approach to its central technology is also present in the script’s treatment of his mounting infidelity, which is strangely played without dialogue or acknowledgement of its likelihood. Outside of one curt argument with his wife and a series of longing looks from a giggling Harper, there is nothing included in the plot to make you believe he is falling in love with his A.I. or why he would risk his homelife to pursue a relationship with it. It just kind of happens because the script dictates it so, and it feels every bit forced and awkward.

AUGGIE Review 2
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Speaking of, I don’t know what it says about your film when the most significant plot point is whether or not your main character will order massaging masturbation shorts so he can sleep with his artificial companion, but it is probably not good. While I would never ask for the image of a writhing Richard Kind in what looks like thermal running shorts intercut with Harper in seductive closeups, director Matt Kane sure is not afraid of filling out the back half of his barely feature-length film with it.

It’s indicative of his plain, drab-looking presentation throughout that the most engaging image he can muster is also its most unintentionally hilarious. As we are so disconnected from this character and his alleged struggle to keep his marriage together in light of his devoted A.I., these scenes that represent his giving into temptation feel so hollow and awkward, especially so when you consider how pseudo-serious Kane plays it.

Auggie is an endeavor that should have been reconsidered from the outset. Not only is the money not there to make us believe the technology, but the central idea has also been explored with an adroitness that this script and execution could only hope to approach. Not to harp on the comparison, but at least Her had the sense to not have masturbation shorts.

2 Responses to “AUGGIE Review”

  1. Rick Barnett Reply

    I don’t know your age, Chris, but I would bet my entire stock portfolio that you are a 20 or 30-something. A fine writer, you manage to savage this film with adroit skill. What is missing from your critique is understanding..a quality I trust that will manifest with time and maturity.

    This is film ABOUT wisdom and worth discarded by a society that sees little value in patience and experience. Any similarity with the marvelous movie ’Her,’ Is as superficial as your review.

    When cast into the trash heap of abandoned use, Felix retreats into himself. His conversations with Auggie are as masturbatory as the implied sexual act itself.

    Was Felix unfaithful? If infidelity begins in the mind, then yes..assuredly do. But to disdain Felix’s plight is to validate his withdrawal from a reality that no longer respects him.

    To find purpose, we have to look into ourselves. To find recognition, we have to deliver on that purpose. As Anne said, we have to make a choice every day. In the final scene, Felix faces that choice.

    • Troublechan Reply

      Thank you for saying so eloquently how so many of those of us who’re Olders feel. I am 55 (56 tomorrow) and do get tired of being looked at as though I’m a pest. Either because I don’t act my age and mess around or because I do act it and don’t. My life has centred on those I love. But I have had adventures and have stories to tell, both sad and happy ones – yet, because of my age, I’m now considered worthless by those outside my family. Whilst I definitely would not buy the shorts, I can really see the appeal of the glasses for those who feel abandoned not only by those outside, but by their families too. Besides loneliness can kill as much as cancer – it’s just by the hand of the sufferer rather than a disease… I can see these glasses being lifelines for those ignored by society and families alike; left alone to their own devices until they die. Sadly Chris is not of an age to understand that – but he will be……..

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