Let Me Assist You

By Noam Argov | Sci-Fi
A man's A.I. assistant tries to take over as his fitness and wellness coach.

Jason has just broken up with his girlfriend Natalie after she discovered he had a one-night stand. It's a devastating breakup, leaving Jason unmoored, depressed and feeling stuck in life.

Determined to turn things around, he leans on Athena, the A.I. assistant on his phone, to help him navigate and pick up the pieces of his broken life. He begins to work out more; he eats better; he meditates, all with the help of Athena, who begins to take a key role in his life as a de facto life coach and source of emotional support.

Written and directed by Noam Argov, this insightful, funny sci-fi short looks at our relationship to technology from an emotionally relatable angle, as a broken-hearted young man finds comfort, healing and support from his A.I. voice assistant. There are shades of Spike Jonze's 2013 film Her in terms of the thematic ground covered, but this short is self-deprecating and more grounded in reality, and in look and feel it has the more muted, naturalistic visuals of the romantic drama genre. They reflect Jason's more melancholic state of mind, suffused with sadness over his recent breakup.

Jason begins to lift himself out of his stasis, with the help of his voice assistant Athena. The writing offers both humor, heart and sharp social observation, detailing both his painful emotions as well as technology's underlying assumptions of continuous optimization, particularly by paying attention to small, minute details, sometimes at the expense of larger ones. Athena is everything from post-breakup DJ to fitness trainer to hype man to Jason's fragile self-confidence, a range often used to humorous effect. But the growing role she plays in Jason's life is very real.

Actor Dan Shaked does an excellent job capturing Jason at both ends of the character's emotional range from the heartbroken, blinkered beginning to the healthier, more self-aware one. Considering his scène partner is just a phone screen and a voice, he holds attention by playing all shades of Jason's mercurial emotions. Yet a chance encounter with Natalie challenges Jason's thought that he's "over" the breakup, exposing both the significance and limits of the role that Athena plays in his life.

Smart, funny and resolutely human, "Let Me Assist You" is both a relatable post-breakup story and a sharp, wry snapshot of our evolving, increasingly interdependent relationship with technology, especially as it infiltrated even the most intimate corners of our emotional lives. The film imagines an A.I. assistant that's more emotionally attuned than the current crop of Siri, Alexa and more, to often comical effect. But as they become more deeply embedded in the home, those assistants will likely grow more intelligent about human emotions, dilemmas and needs and find ways to "solve" things that may never be quite fixable. No matter what, our relationships with A.I. will grow even more complex, interwoven and intimate -- perhaps even more so than with other humans.

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