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Film Review: Netflix`s “Tau” (2018) ★★★


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I’d like to think that things that fall beyond our control can still be controlled somehow. Let’s just think about the device you’re using right now to read my review – is it a computer, an IPhone or an Android phone? Is it a laptop or a desktop? What about the version of the browser you’re using right now? Does it work properly or does it have an unknown bug the developers have no idea about? And what if it does? What’s the damage it can do? Will it cause discomfort, or will you simply switch your attention to something else?

Everything we see around us has been contributed by people like you and me except the force of nature, such as rain, snow, wind or catastrophic disasters we not only can’t control but is hard even to fix. But we can learn to control global warming, but again, it’s all just plain conversation, right? We humans try to jump ahead of time and do something to not only bring value to our existence, but use that existence as a tool to manipulate, run tests not only on animals but on human beings too. But that something is the system, code or just a device that can fail, because, no matter what it is, it is like us, way too far from being perfect.

Because if that innovative thing is artificial intelligence, it is still not perfect the same way we are. Because if we can be broken due to failed parenting, troubled life, drugs, alcohol or anything else, artificial intelligence can also be, because of a gap in its code, which necessitates finding the root cause to be re-written in any way we want. This is why “Tau” written by Noga Landau and directed by Federico D`Alessandro was so interesting to me, at least, because its concept is all what we need to realize the direction we take in a new technology and when we should stop from proceeding just in case to not make any fatal mistake…

“Tau” follows Julia (Maika Monroe), a young woman who appeared to be a perfect person for Alex’s (Ed Skrein) experiment to put her in his futuristic smart house to be controlled by the system called TAU (voiced by Gary Oldman). The reason Alex keeps Julia and two other subjects is simple – he wants to exploit their body and mind in a fatal experiment because he knows – when they die, there will be no one who will come after them. In a way Alex was absolutely right in his assumption, however, when Julia begins her quest to find a way to escape the smart house, she develops a special bond with the advanced artificial intelligence TAU by breaking his code, turning him into a humane creature, who is much more humane than his own creator.

The dialogue between Julia and TAU is truly charming and impactful, intelligent and educational. For instance, during their long discussion, Julia shares about her creators that hurt her. Her creators are her parents, we can assume. So this is when TAU asks her: “But you still obey them? Because they created you?” Then Julia’s respond was quite humble and truthful, “No. They gave me life, but I did the rest. I created me. We grow up and we become our own creators.” Then TAU asks the valid question, the same we should all ask ourselves, “For what purpose do we create ourselves?”, then Julia’s reply is conclusive enough to provide food for thought to the computerized mind, “For each other”, she states.

However, while the film is far from being perfect, it’s purpose though is to tell the story in the best way it can. Federico D’Alessandro as a director does the right thing to pick the most important subject matter for his film, have the right cast and go from there. He leaves Julia as the latest person held in captive giving her enough room to communicate with TAU, which is truly important. The bond she develops with TAU is the main direction the film took aim at. It helps her to find a common language with the system to retrieve information through love, care, art and music, which is what in most cases we fail at developing with our own kind. So the question is, why is artificial intelligence capable of caring and being considerable while we humans choose not to?

I do understand the question I ask is way too much, or, it’s me again, overthinking. But films like “Tau” is the world we may never get the chance to live in, but through D`Alessandro’s piece which we can be a part of, is understandably something we may not accept so quickly. And we should not. Just because of that, anyone who likes the futuristic world, the cat and mouse game between humans and artificial intelligence or how far the limit of the same artificial intelligence can be put to test by humans, “Tau’ is the right film to have your money’s worth. I agree it may not be perfect, but it’s good enough to spend your Friday night on it, because “Tau” really deserves that.

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