Jasmine

By Mykola Metin | Sci-Fi
A man tries to keep his wife alive -- and hide a shocking truth from their daughter.

Neel and his daughter Maya are dealing with a crisis. Wife and mother Jasmine is seriously ill. Struggling to keep her alive, and to keep tragedy from happening again, they call in a specialist. Jasmine is not just Neel's wife and Maya's mother -- she is also an android, though Maya doesn't know that.

But when an unsympathetic new "doctor" comes in and realizes that Jasmine has been tampered with from a previous loss, Neel must confront the fact that not even technology can save him from loss -- and reckon with the consequences of an earlier one.

Directed by Mykola Metin from a script by Vishwas, this compelling and polished sci-fi short is essentially a story about a family dealing with a potentially catastrophic loss, as a beloved member faces illness and possibly death. Neel must not just manage the illness of his wife, but also must try to manage the expectations of his daughter, who doesn't know Jasmine's true nature. The solid, well-crafted writing weaves in its sci-fi angle by making Jasmine's status as a machine both the cause of her illness and the point of contention between Neel and the company, which builds throughout the film.

As it turns out, Jasmine is an old model -- "junk," according to the inspector. And because she's been patched over and tinkered with, there's little hope for Jasmine's continued presence in their lives. As Neel tries to reason with the new technician, we understand how deeply Jasmine is woven into his family life. Despite her status as an android, she was still a deeply beloved member of the family, one whose contribution was invaluable to Neel and Maya.

As Neel negotiates with the new company representative, the dialogue reveals the gap between a company that sees Jasmine as a product and "intellectual property" and a family that deeply loves Jasmine. Actor Vishwas portrays a father trying to keep his family together, with a relatable concern and distress, especially as the company callously wishes to "repossess" Jasmine like an object. On one hand, she is an android; on another, she's still family. The conflict plays out, but it resolves with an unexpected development -- one that opens up more questions about machine learning and the emotional lives of the humans that built them.

Engaging and quietly fascinating, "Jasmine" works because it pays as much attention to the story of the family as it does to the science and technology angle of its genre. It understands the depths of human emotional attachment, and how relationships are built by the care and service we give to one another. If one of the members of the family is different, does that mitigate their contribution or the pivotal role they play in it? The corporate and proprietary nature of technology will continue to intersect in these questions as well. The notion of the human family unit will change and shift to accommodate more unconventional influences, the film suggests -- but there will also be new ways to dismantle the family, too.




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