Film Review: Synthetic Me
The nostalgia of plush animals is literally brought to life in “Synthetic Me,” a portion of Alan: The Musical, a musical about companionship between an undergraduate student, Christina, and her plush lion, Alan. In “Synthetic Me” Alan sings his woes about not knowing his own DNA Code.
The musical number has your head nodding in time with the catchy acoustic-lead orchestral arrangement put together by Joi Baru and Matthieu Eymard with vocals also by Matthieu. The acoustic style fits the charming visuals of Alan bonding with his owner and companion, Christina, in small moments from ice skating to star gazing. Christina and Alan clearly have a lifelong, inseparable bond.
The 2D animation style led by director Samudra Kajal Saikia and Executive Producer Deepak Sharma focus on warm, inviting tones. The golden hues reinforce the nostalgic feeling of the overall piece. Beyond the bonding images, there is also a wistfulness. There are images of Alan somewhat depressed, desiring more. These slice of life moments of both happy and sad get a fantastical feel with the impressionist backgrounds. Overall, it gives you a sense of wonderment watching.
Alan has a compelling emotional journey throughout the song. After being fixed up constantly by Christina, Alan struggles with the meaning of being synthetic and feeling like a part of himself is covered up. In a very human way, he is pained with the mystery of existence.
Within Alan’s struggle to understand himself, he thinks about what makes us who we are. In particular, he cites DNA. In singing of synthetic DNA, the lyrics reinforce some scientific terms. Adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine are the four nucleotide bases found in DNA, and the chorus of this song is “ATGC yeah” a fun little reinforcement of the scientific principle. Perhaps this jingle could be used in the classroom as a tool for school children to remember the four bases.
If the understanding of existence wasn’t compelling enough, Alan has a curious, insightful mind. He wants more out of life; he wants to communicate with his companion and the world. He believes new developments through AI technology is the way. As Alan’s goal transitions so cleverly does the music. It breaks into a lovely saxophone solo as he celebrates the idea of being brand new.
“Synthetic Me” is full of warmth and hope. It is about friendship, understanding, and evolving to your fullest potential. Most people can relate to the overarching desire to have your favorite stuffed animal become real. This video lays the groundwork for a compelling character dynamic and story for Alan the lion.