Plato’s Reality Machine (2013) – By Philip Smolen

“Every person you’ve been in a relationship with leaves some kind of mark in you. We’re basically made up of little pieces of other people.”

Charles (Doug Roland) is a twenty-something New Yorker who is at home playing a basic video game shoot-em up. During the course of the game, his character teams up with a video game character named Sophia (voice of Mackenzie Davis) who agrees to help him win the game by taking control of the space ship they’re on. The only problem is that Charles isn’t sure he can trust Sophia. Meanwhile, Charles’ real life friend Scott (Ed Renninger) badgers Charles to join him at a party that he swears will be attended by hundreds of girls. But there’s some mistrust between Charles and Scott because Charles just finished a one-night stand with Kim (Heather Shister) who informs Charles before she leaves that Scott tried to seduce her the night before. Charles also pines away for his ex girlfriend Maggie (Carolina Bartzcak) who has now taken up with an Australian actor (Nathan Spiteri). If nothing else, Charles’s personal life continues to bubble and boil, and it’s at least as interesting as the video game he’s playing.

“Plato’s Reality Machine” is the first full length feature from writer/director Myles Sorensen and it’s a very different look at relationships. Rather than starting at the beginning, Sorensen picks up his characters in mid and post relationship mode. They’ve all still got a piece of their last relationship in them, and because of this, they’re having trouble moving forward. Scott is venial and base and just wants to score. Charles can’t sew back together his wounded heart and Kim tries too hard to please every new guy she’s with.  

What’s unique about the film is how Sorensen uses scenes from the sci-fi video game Charles is playing as a metaphor for his characters’ relationships. In the game Charles’s character wonders if he can trust Sophia, even though trusting her could spell his death. However, in the real world Charles knows that a relationship is doomed without total trust.

One of the best scenes in the movie takes place at a strip club where Scott gets a private lap dance from a stripper named Zoe (Trieste Kelly Dunn). Annoyed at the game she’s playing with him, Scott starts trying to cut her down to size and is pleasantly surprised to find out that Crystal is every bit as witty playing tit for tat.

The movie is a dramatic and honest look at the fear and confusion that relationships can bring about in a person. So to protect themselves, many people choose to treat life like a video game. While there is no real conclusion to the film, Sorensen does dig deep and exposes some plain truths.

All of the actors excel and bring depth, shading and style to their characters. Featuring a score by Raymond Watts (KMFDM), “Plato’s Reality Machine” is a slow moving but pleasing and honest attempt to show the chasms that exist in modern personal relationships. It’s a nifty indie flick.

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