Do you think technology helps or hinders our relationships? Do pictures capture fake smiles? Can a conversation over a computer or a phone compare to spending time with someone in person? This is the theme explored in Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, a new movie that opened May 11th. Written and directed by Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson, it has been honored at several film festivals this year.

 

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Viewers follow the main character, Sarah, as she journeys across the country to reunite with her estranged mother. She, herself, is soon to become a mother, and she isn’t too stoked about it. Instead of getting emotional when finding out she is going to have a baby, she describes the intricate workings of her home pregnancy test. And her sonogram doesn’t elicit much of an emotional reaction either. The cynicism persists through the movie.

Sarah’s situation, her estrangement from her mother, is relatable. People are not perfect, and sometimes we really struggle to connect with each other. The hurt and fear that many people feel can make hiding very tempting. That’s why the story is appealing. However, it is obvious and too explanatory about its points. Predictably, by the end, Sarah is using technology to help her relationships. I get it, technology can be used to distance or to connect, for good or evil, and all machines are just a bunch of tiny moving parts, just as we all are in the grand scheme of things. Deep. Now what else have you got for me?

The best part of this movie is the supporting characters that she meets up with on her journey. They are the needed comic relief: quirky caricatures of many people’s odd family members. And of course, they have their own views on technology. I’d give the film 2 stars out of 5, if anyone were asking me to give it stars. Hypothetical stars aside, the film was cute but not particularly wowing.