Review: ‘Five Star Existence’

This artistically shot docu ponders the question: As modern society becomes increasingly dependent on technology, what does humankind lose and gain?

As modern society becomes increasingly dependent on technology, what does humankind lose and gain? In the artistically shot “Five Star Existence,” winner of the Seattle fest’s docu prize, Finnish multihyphenate Sonja Linden ponders this question within her own life. She also visits various experts who explain how computers, robotics and accelerating innovation transform traditional ideas about time, distance, work and communication, and how these changes affect our psychological, emotional and physical well-being. Illustrated with plentiful examples for and against the brave new world, Linden’s provocative but nonjudgmental meditation should segue from fests to home-viewing formats.

Typifying the fast pace of modern life, the experts here get only a few moments to discuss the blessings and curses of high-tech. Among their unsurprising points: Life may be easier for a well-to-do minority of humans but machines continue to replace manual laborers. While technological advancements enable complicated microsurgery and permit disabled people to maintain independent lives, they also spark computer addiction and physical/psychological dysfunction. No matter how seductive, virtual worlds cannot replace the intimacy of human contact in the real world. Nature provides balance. As befits the material, tech package is first-rate.

Five Star Existence

Finland-Sweden

Production

An Avanton Prods, Mantaray Film production with the support of YLE, FFF, Avek, SVT Kultur, Svenska Filminstitut, NFIF. Produced by Sonja Linden, Stine Gardell. Directed, written by Sonja Linden.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, DV), Peter Flinckenberg, Pekka Uotila, Mika Orasmaa; editor, Samu Heikkila; music, Rebekka Karijord. Reviewed on DVD, Chicago, June 20, 2012. (In Seattle Film Festival -- competing; 2011 Intl. Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Jorgen Bladh, Dwari Deutsch, Outi Harkko, Sonja Kongas, Mikko Kinnunen, Marja Korhonen, Svagit Liebermeister, Maj Lindgren, David G. Moore, Tom Packale. (English, Finnish, Korean dialogue)
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