James (Drew Van Acker) has inherited a business of some sort and a large house. He and his wife Sophie (Addison Timlin) move in but she has trouble adjusting to life with domestic servants. She is an idealist and lets the entire staff go (with plenty of future pay) and she quickly learns that the affairs of the house are too great to handle on her own. In an attempt to find some common ground, James brings up the idea of a robot valet. They pick one out from the dealer/inventor, Julian, a dryly slimy fellow (James d’Arcy) dressed much like a Catholic priest, (collar and all) and he ensures them that their new helper is a perfected form of humanity in every way and will only do that which pleases them. It’s not long at all, though, until Sophie, apparently feeling rather neglected, becomes attracted to Henry, their robot (Steven Strait). Things escalate, with James acting cruelly toward Henry. As the marriage seemingly unravels, Henry exhibits the early signs of feelings.
The script understands what’s going on but we’re left to assume Sophie’s is not quite ok mentally. James doesn’t fare much better, as he spends his days dealing with his father’s business, which is never defined in any way, though we get the hints that global deals are involved and that he’s not very competent at business. When not at work, he’s emasculated by Henry and tries to dominate him, leading to some actually welcome even-handedness in the screwing-the-robot department. Since there’s no sense of time there and it feels too sudden, too quick and too capricious.
On the technical side of things, the acting is mostly very good and direction is ok, the cinematography is nothing to write home about, the camera is as static and lifeless as can be, the music is pretty much stock and the editing further stretches out a plot that’s already stretched to incomprehensibility. It turns out that Henry is developing emotions, something he was guaranteed not to do, and these emotions are taking their toll on the household marriage. Whilst confronting one another and working to shut Henry off and kick him to the curb, Henry goes after Julian, whom he calls a liar. After a series of events that makes it look as though Henry may have killed Julian, we find out, rather suddenly and without setup, that, indeed, we have all been lied to: Henry – and his fellow robots – are not, in fact, robots at all, but are actually brainwashed humans. Apparently Julian and his father abducted young children who had been abandoned (at least, that’s how it sounded, it was quite unclear in terms of details) and raised them to think they were robots.
I almost love this film because of the twist and in that it approximates a real-life movie with a point, but it just doesn’t quite get there.