Film Review: Daft Punk’s Electroma (France, 2006) – Special ACMI Screening

Daft Punk’s 2006 directorial debut Electroma is a step away from previous pop- film collaborations such as Discovery 2003 to a more surreal and conceptual journey. Running for 74 minutes without dialogue, Electroma follows the journey of a robot duo who try to achieve humanness. If there was any doubt that the robots desired to become human, well, they had a rather obvious car plate which read “human”, get the message now? These robots are undoubtedly supposed to represent the duo Daft punk themselves as they wear the silver and gold helmets so recognised with the duo and also don leather jackets studded with “Daft Punk”. And so, the film can sometimes appear to be overly didactic and for such a conceptual and experimental film it definitely does not hesitate to spoon feed audiences, which I found to be a bit counter intuitive.

Aside from those elements, there is a quite fantastic suburbia scene which follows the duo cruising around in their cars and observing the other robots who alternate in wearing either version of the helmet. The helmets interestingly become a point of identity for the robot world and literally reflect upon each other and mirror ourselves. Following this scene the Daft Punk duo experience a transformation where a thick viscous pink liquid is applied to their helmets. This is their (ultimately failed) attempt to become human and it is quite a perfectly flawed and bittersweet scene. In this way the robots failed attempt can be tied to Daft Punk’s inability to go back to a time before their success. It can be read as an extended metaphor for their self centric existence in which their identity as Daft Punk has consumed their humanness and their actual names, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

Although experimental and intriguing, Electroma has some incredibly drawn out scenes of “nothingness”. Beautiful, albeit desolate, landscapes make up more than half of this film and echo the robots perhaps unfruitful search for humanness. It is these scenes and fragments of barren and dry “nothingness” that sometimes are too abused and can cause even the most die hard of Daft Punk fans to grow restless and, unfortunately, slightly bored. Also paired with an uncharacteristically un-Daft Punk sound, the sound track of the film is minimalist and does not feature any of the duo’s music which is strangely jarring.

In this way, a bit of me is yearning for some fan edit that would probably exist on youtube. An edit that chops together the dynamic and wonderful parts of the film and then dubs over the new cut with a Daft Punk soundtrack. Although Electroma is a commendable and wonderful attempt at experimental film, it is probably a bit inaccessible to a wider audience. So for people who misleadingly think the film is going to be awash with classic House beats and Electro rhythm, well, expect the unexpected.

Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Running time: 74 minutes

Daft Punk’s Electroma is currently screening at ACMI in Melbourne. For more information click HERE.