Modern Life Is Rubbish
SciFiNow|Issue 144

Andrew Niccol talks about his new SF movie Anon and whether humanity can keep up with technology

Katherine Mclaughlin

Andrew Niccol starts laughing when asked if he has a Facebook account and blurts out a simple: “No!” From watching his new sci-fi movie, Anon, starring Amanda Seyfried and Clive Owen it’s obvious he’s not a fan of social media and the impact it is having on society.

The director of Gattaca, S1mone and In Time has long been looking at the way humans interact with new technology and his latest film is a meticulous interpretation of the modern world.

There’s shades of Philip K Dick’s, short story, Adjustment Team in this tech-noir but Niccol explains he’s often inspired by current affairs more than any existing source material. “I’ve always wanted to make a film about privacy and I’m friendly with a guy who’s a big deal at Google. What they say about Google is if you don’t pay for it, it means that you’re the product. This is exactly where it’s at. There is no war for privacy because we gave it up for convenience.”

In Anon, privacy and anonymity have vanished thanks to a database that downloads personal information to a grid called ‘The Ether’. The police use this to solve crime and tap into memories and thoughts, but when a murder spree erupts they are at a loss due to a glitch in the system where the killer has manipulated it to make themselves invisible.

Owen, as troubled detective, Sal Frieland, goes undercover to investigate a woman only known as The Girl (Seyfried who plays a hacker of sorts). The visuals on screen replicate the advertisements common on social media sites and the idea that people are imprisoned by their attachment to technology is fastidiously examined.

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