Sunday, October 21, 2012

Artificial Intelligence and Real Love

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and the play by Michael Golamco, Build, currently at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, would not at first glance appear to have anything in common, but they both struck the same notes with me:  creativity, spontaneous intelligence, innocence, love.

In Build, Kip and Will have been building video games together since college, and they’ve been successful at it.  They also love the same woman, but she’s dead.  Or, is she?  This isn’t a play with a ghost, but her spirither intelligence and creative joyand her sadness, has been regenerated via artificial intelligence.  It was never clear to me if she was a robot or her essence was capturedcoded, if you willand contained within the computer.  She’s alive to Kip and Will, though, and this ensemble cast transcends the geek trope with their creative obsessions, but particularly with her zest for Life.

The two men, testy and combative, meet on the fertile ground of their imaginations and learn something about lovetheir love for the A.I., but also for each other.  They free themselves by freeing her.

Moonrise Kingdom also creates a fantasy world where two 12-year-old misfits fall in love and go on an adventure.  To say Suzy and Sam run off together would be to demean their intelligence and organization.  They want nothing to do with a hierarchical world where they’re considered outsiders, but they have the same innocence and joie de vivre as the A.I. in Build.  While there is a larger cast in the movie, the close-ups are of the boy and the girl where all their quirkiness and hunger for the world fills their eyes. 

In Build the three characters each change.  In Moonrise Kingdom, the children’s lives are modified, but their love isn’t, they don’t change, but the adults around them do.

Both movie and play are set pieces for looking back and confronting the past while at the same time facing the present.  Each vehicle is an attempt—eerie, funny, earnest—to bypass the ordinary through imagination.  There is no evil intelligence here.  The characters are smart and loving.  In Build, they celebrate joy and creativity with the A.I.  In Moonrise Kingdom, Sam and Suzy are innocent and smart and creative.  In the beginning and at the end, their eagerness for life is the same as the A.I.'s.

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