Despite not being a parent myself, I am very aware that new mothers and fathers struggle to balance childcare and work. There’s still an obscene amount of societal pressure on people to do parenting ‘right’, whatever that means.
Some believe it’s important to keep working, whilst others think mothers should spend as much time as possible with young ones, even if that means sacrificing a career. This idea of simplifying modern parenting is an interesting theme to explore, particularly within the sci-fi genre.
Victor Alonso-Berbel’s Perfectly Natural does exactly that, with a short film that utterly broke my heart. It follows young couple Wanda (Marisa Brown) and Zach (Ryan Sherman), as they try out a new technology called Future Families that allows virtual parents to care for their young son, Max. The couple agreed this would allow them to work extra hours, whilst their son still gets the care and attention he needs.
Though this seems like a beneficial thing at first, they soon start to doubt the program. It’s obvious that this is going to happen, but that doesn’t make the film any less brilliant. Due to some great writing from Sam Hobson and some stellar lead performances, you follow Wanda and Zach as they experience a rollercoaster of emotions.
It’s very Black Mirror in nature, which will certainly appeal to fans of the show and those that enjoy cautionary tales. I didn’t get the impression that the film was trying to be anti-tech, but that it was warning us what can happen if we become too reliant on it. There’s no substitute for genuine human connection, especially when it comes to raising a child.
I loved Perfectly Natural as it criticises those who stick their nose in other’s lives. In this case it was Wanda’s boss, who pushes her into trying out Future Families. Despite only being 12 minutes long, it does an excellent job at challenging societal pressures. The technology featured in the film is well-written, and parodies the nuclear family trope we’re all used to, making the ‘real’ parents feel inadequate.
With a strong script, some engaging sci-fi visuals and an important moral message, this short film is a must-watch. You can watch it for yourself below: