Mini-Review: Electric Dreams (1984) is the Definition of Cheesy 80s Cinema

electric dreams
Miles Harding (Lenny von Dohlen) is an architect living in San Francisco. One day, after a conversation with one of his colleagues he decides that buying a portable electronic agenda is a great idea to better organize his work. At the store they’re all out of whatever you’d call the precursor of an iPad, so he gets a personal computer instead. After discovering a lot of cool features, he decides to download all the data from his bosses’ computer. One evening he accidentally spills a bottle of champagne on his PC. Ever since that incident the thing starts to develop some sort of sentient artificial intelligence. Oh and then there’s some stuff about Virginia Madsen and a cello, but I was mostly interested in the vintage technology part, so I didn’t really pay attention to that. 

Electric Dreams is a nice little 80s flick about technology, love and music. It has an interesting concept, but then tries to do jumble too many plots at once. It’s also a very cheesy and schmaltzy movie, so if you’re expecting some genuine emotional drama/romance, this is not it. The romance angle is very cliché, and almost nauseating by the end. The tech-geek in me however rejoiced at some of the sci-fi elements in this. I don’t know how many of the soft- and hardware stuff in Electric Dreams is real(istic) and how much is futuristic, but it was fascinating nonetheless. A lot of it feels very dated, but that’s what I liked: The film is a product of its time and not having lived in those years, we get to see how people viewed technology back then.

I mainly watched this film, because a lot of people mentioned it in the context of Spike Jonze’s Her, another romance film featuring a “talking computer”. While I didn’t have a chance to see Her  I can easily imagine it being a lot subtler and emotionally honest. Electric Dreams is definitely one of those films that spells out everything for the viewer, its ideas, the story, the way we should feel. It’s also kind of creepy and bordering horror in some parts, in a psychological and atmospherical sense. In fact it’s a lot of genres at once, which is difficult to pull off and sometimes I wished it just picked a tone and stuck with it. I also don’t think there’s any chemistry between the two leads. For some reason I can’t buy into the fact that they fall in love. It just feels forced.

Rating on First Viewing: 6 out of 10

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