Happy Here and Now, 2002

A young woman named Amelia (Liane Balaban), has arrived in New Orleans to search for her sister, Muriel (Shalom Harlow) after she abruptly and inexplicably lost contact with her, and the key to the beautiful young woman’s disappearance seems to lie in the formatted hard drive of her laptop computer. It is through this mysterious framework that Michael Almereyda explores the growing phenomenon of technological alienation in Happy Here and Now. The opening shot of Almereyda’s organically fluid, understated, and intriguing film is composed of a pixellated, split framed monitor image of a private webchat as a highly articulate, self-confident, and dashing firefighter, Eddie Mars (Karl Geary) discusses the illusion of human contact in the virtual social environment of the internet with a solemn – and achingly receptive – Muriel. As the young man seductively muses on late night online chats on the surrogacy of online avatars, illusion of perfect love, and elusive ideal of platonic relationships, the film serves as an insightful meditation on the nature of reality, disconnection, and intimacy.

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