Robot doppelgangers are a thing of the future in Doppelbanger, some of them doing legal jobs and some not. A writer, George (Gibson Frazier) hires a sex doppelganger that breaks down during the session. That makes him call the robot’s original (Annapurna Siriram). At least this delivers something audiences expect from the premise, where actors play different roles. The female role is more striking, since both require an ‘ideal’ female and a counterpart that’s more ‘real’.
This short film also talks about the myths we might still believe about the future. The more things change, the more they stay the same. There’s some interesting world building here, a world where sex work still has stigma. George passes money to the human woman, the latter accepting it with shame. It also shows an analog version of technology, cool looking but unable to solve the problem that is a glitch-y doll.
Despite its trailer, director-writer Sofian Khan shoots this in black and white. That color scheme hides whatever flaws there might be that the camera might inadvertently catch in the sets. It also makes this fictional world more depressing. This is a world where everyone gets a robot double who can do their jobs for them. And somehow that’s a bad thing. The execution of the visuals also feel blurry without making that a deliberate effect.
This film is short, but it’s not an excuse to write the people in it into stereotypes. The Original Woman is the kind of young person who knows all of the future social media platforms. George, on the other hand, is an old soul who writes with a typewriter and never knows what she’s talking about. Most writers know their social media even though they’re not good at it. Their bittersweet goodbye also feels saccharine.
Doppelbanger is one of the shorts playing at a drive in location as part of the Fantasia Film Festival.