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IFC Films
Official Site
Director: Pierre-Paul Renders
Producers: Diana and Karin Shaves
Written by: Philippe Blasband
Cast: Benoit Verhaert, Aylin Yay and Magali Pinglaut

Rating: out of 5

Thomas is in love. This is no small feat, considering Thomas is an agoraphobic shut-in who has had no direct human contact in over eight years.

We never see what Thomas looks like throughout the entire length of THOMAS IN LOVE. The lens of the camera functions as if we were seeing what Thomas sees as he looks at his ďvisiophone,Ē a telephone/computer/camera that enables him to communicate with the outside world. Whoever calls Thomas or whomever he chooses to call is the only thing we see on the movie screen.

The film takes place in futuristic France, but we learn that at one time in the past Thomas was fairly functional and made a lot of money at his job. As his fear of people and the outside world worsened, he cloistered himself in an apartment and turned over all his money to an insurance agency, which now handles most of his needs. What the insurance company canít take care of, Thomas takes care of through cybersex cartoon games.

One of Thomasís regular callers is his therapist, who determines if Thomas is ever to get better, he must meet other people, so he enrolls Thomas in a dating service. Thomas has no choice in the matter. He tries to hang up when the dating service automatically calls, but the picture on his visiophone wonít go away until he responds to the compatibility questionnaire. Because of his condition, Thomas discovers he is also eligible for visits from state-sponsored prostitutes. Through these two services different woman constantly pop up on the visiophone screen. Most of the women fail to interest Thomas, but the one who catches his attention is a prostitute named Eva (Yay). When she appears on his screen for the first time, she is wiping away tears. Thomas is intrigued and wants to speak with her. She angrily asks him to solicit another prostitute, but he persists. His relationship with Eva, as well as other women who appear on his screen is what propels THOMAS IN LOVE.

The film has perks as well as pitfalls. The constantly changing pictures and the odd, postmodern scenery are striking and innovative, as well as the comical notion that navigating through bureaucratic procedure is helped only by memorizing oneís insurance policy number. But what hampers the movie is the ambiguity of the message. Does technology keep Thomas isolated or does it keep him entertained? Is it possible to find true love, even when itís filtered through artificial channels? Whatever conclusions you reach on your own, THOMAS IN LOVE raises interesting questions about the Internet and its effect on society that are worth pondering.

óNancy Semin

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

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