Year:  2023

Director:  Alex Lykos

Rated:  PG

Release:  19 October 2023

Running time: 87 minutes

Worth: $12.50
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Alex Lykos

… gentle humour and pathos …

One fun fact from this Australian documentary is that there are more mobile phones in existence than there are people on the planet. That’s eight billion and counting. Of course, it is not the phone function alone that makes the little attention magnet so essential and ubiquitous. It is a computer in your pocket with all the connectivity that implies. And, yes, they are designed to be dopamine dispensers and are highly addictive, especially for the young.

Actor/Writer/Director Alex Lykos (Alex and Eve) has made a small but engaging commentary on the new mobile dilemmas. Taking a leaf out of Morgan Spurlock’s (Supersize Me) book, Lykos decides to experiment on himself and let us in on the journey.

The film starts with Lykos and his partner solemnly locking his phone (and laptop) in the family safe and swearing not to take them out until thirty days have elapsed. Given that he is making a film, er this film, it is of course hard for him to make arrangements, contact people about changes in the shoot, or doing any of the hundreds of things that we do via mobiles every day.

The film’s funniest and warmest moments concern the director’s relationship with his almost-stereotypically Greek dad. The dad doesn’t understand what would make his son do such an idiotic thing, but we get the impression that he has thought that all of his son’s decisions (including persisting in an insecure biz like filmmaking) are just as stupid. But there is gentle humour and pathos in the way that both sides of the relationship are shown.

Taken as whole, the film feels a little thin. Lykos is a likable screen presence, and we can mostly sympathise with moments of his self-inflicted torment. However, once we get the concept, there is not much originality or anything particularly surprising in its playing out.

One of the more interesting aspects of the film is the breaking of a fourth wall, by putting up onscreen QR codes so that people could partake in an online poll. Lykos is fully aware of the irony in asking people to turn on their phones in the one situation where they should definitely be off. Let’s just hope that once people have opened their phones, they don’t let their attention on the film dwindle and dive instead into all of those fascinating apps…