Teknolust has the ring of erotic science fiction to it. Along with the cyber sensual name, is the sexually charged premise. Dr. Rosetta Stone (Tilda Swinton) injects her DNA into three Self Replicating Automatons (S.R.A.) On cue, the three want to find out about life, love, and independence. What happens next involves knowledge, humanity, and boiled semen.
The film looks beautiful. Each S.R.A. wears and resides in vivid colors that match their name. Ruby is surrounded by deep reds, Olive is surrounded by bright greens, and Marinne is always surrounded by blues.Director Lynn Hershman-Lesson also does a great job of framing the colors against darker backgrounds. This adds an eye catching quality to mundane scenes. That being said, some interior scenes are especially drab. This may have been an intentional decision as one of the film’s themes is the real versus the imagined world.
The direction highlights Teknolust’s biggest issue. Where the movie stalls is in the follow through. Even in 2002 (when the movie was initially released) there was a lot to talk about regarding the increasingly reliance on technology in people’s private lives. Here, the script constantly dances around the subject without ever tackling it head on.
As expected, the clones begin to act independently. In a promising twist, this leads to a virus that affects men and computers. There are obvious parallels to real life. Aside from one character referencing HIV, the plot thread is left dangling. Things proceed in the expected manner and the movie never surprises. It is another example of an interesting idea left alone.
The lost potential is frustrating, but it does not completely ruin the movie’s enjoyment. Tilda Swanson does her usual good job. She manages to bring a unique identity to each of the four versions of herself. There are also some genuinely funny moments. In the process of pointing the lens at society, Hershman-Leeson also manages to joke about it. Teknolust may not completely address every issue it brings up, but the audience will certainly laugh at many of them.
The opening is reminiscent of Silk Stalkings or Red Shoe Diaries. There is a strong mix of eroticism and intrigue that plays out. The music is perfect and the plot involves the clones needing to collect sperm to survive. While the opportunity for sexual tension and humor is never fully realized, it brings levity to Teknolust. It is in these more playful moments the story really shines.
Now more than ever, a movie that deals with virtual relationships and a rapidly spreading virus would be relatable. For all its beauty and grand ideas, Teknolust is not that movie. It is well directed and has some very funny moments. It also moves at a rapid fire pace that moves the plot along without fully addressing the themes it brings up. The movie does have a lot of things to say, it just never says enough.