“[…]Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm asserted a need for science to question the ethics of its pursuits; for a sense of responsibility to govern the drive to do what never has been done. Manda Kunotoshi’s latest movie, Synchronizer seems to examine this very dilemma. A researcher conducts unauthorized experiments into synchronizing the brainwaves of humans with animals. His female co-worker, realizing his research could lead to applications in remedying brain dysfunctions, assists in advancing the experiments. Then, the researcher attempts to explore the possibility of curing his mother of Alzheimer’s disease through synchronization between two human brains. Though the woman ascertains what will result from the experiment, will she be able to stop it?
The high concept scenario bears a superficial likeness to Igarashi Akiko’s Visualized Hearts which premiered at the 2017 Osaka Asian Film Festival and Manda taking a dip into apparent lo-fi sci-fi is quite intriguing in and of itself. However, unlike Igarahi’s work, Manda, as he has throughout his career, seems to again explore the fringes of human relationships; in this case, what people are willing to do or overlook because of blind passion with the science fiction overtures serving as a framework. Even the Japanese synopsis bills the movie as a psychological suspense-thriller, a tone very much present in the trailer.
[will replace with English subtitled version if one becomes available]
In this day and age when science and technology seem to be advancing at a breakneck pace both for the sheer prestige of “invention” as well as to court lucrative venture capital, Synchronizer certainly echoes the concerns of Dr. Malcolm in broad terms though the movie’s “unpredictable climax” may be unmistakably Manda Kunitoshi.