A sci-fi film featuring a sexual relationship between a man and an android meant to replace his lost 10-year-old daughter has caused no shortage of outrage and even walkouts after its screenings at a Berlin film festival.
“The Trouble with Being Born,” directed by Austrian filmmaker Sandra Wollner, premiered at Berlinale 2020 late last month, according to the Independent.
The film centers around “Elli,” an android played by 10-year-old Lena Watson (a pseudonym), who calls her owner “Daddy.”
While much of the film’s content is innuendo or implied, the movie “leaves little doubt that the man, played by Dominik Warta, has a sexual relationship with the child robot,” the Independent reports.
A review by Slant retells one particularly disgusting scene:
Inklings of something disturbing in this isolated idyll, that too-close stare of the father and his dressing her just so, are eventually made explicit and disturbing. In one of the more effectively queasy body-horror moments ever put on film, the father removes Elli’s tongue and vagina for cleaning, leaving her naked on the counter. It’s a strikingly disgusting moment, pointing not just to the abuse he subjected his human daughter to, but the casual disdain with which he regards her replacement.
Wollner told The Hollywood Reporter that she was “scared” of choosing a child for the part at first. The role had initially been written for a 20-year-old, but the search for an actress half that age began after editing more explicit scenes from the script.
Wollner told The Hollywood Reporter that she looked for a minor who came from a “healthy environment.”
It was also necessary that the child for the role comes from “the sort of open-minded family who would understand the story they wanted to tell and also allow them to do it,” noted The Hollywood Reporter, who called the film “a hidden gem.”
The child actress used a silicone mask and a wig, which hides her identity and reinforces that “it’s a role she’s playing,” Wollner told Variety.
“Of course, her parents were there during the shoot. She was never naked, she was never running around naked, she never saw anybody naked on set. We just did that in the edit,” she added.
Instead, the film relied heavily on CGI for its handful of nude scenes.
“We had really honest talks with the family, who were there during the shoot. It was very open, very transparent. And of course we talked to [Watson] about the film in a very child-appropriate way,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
Does a “child-appropriate” way exist to tell a child she’s going to play a robot who will be sexually assaulted by her “father”? How on earth do you pull that off?
It seems only one film reviewer wasn’t keen on licking Wollner’s “bold” and “edgy” boots. In a review titled “Pedophilia Finally Gets Mainstream Nod in The Trouble with Being Born,” FilmGoblin asks, “Who are these people actually kidding?”
“Let’s not pretend that this isn’t about mainstreaming the last sexual perversion — other than bestiality — that isn’t socially acceptable,” the review states. “And there’s no argument to be made in defense of the existence of this film by using the ‘Lolita’ defense, or even the ‘well it’s just a robot’ defense.”
The review continues, rightfully shredding this piece of garbage film:
“Of course, if you live like an atheist and have a worldview that this world is all there is and that human beings aren’t any more than a conglomeration of cells accidentally swirled together, to both begin and end without meaning in the world, then why wouldn’t you build a kiddie sex robot, thus softening your resistance to going and getting a real kid? Hello, pagan morality.”
Children being used in disgusting, sexually explicit ways in independent film is nothing new, sadly. I only fear that it will become more common, like FilmGoblin noted, as the last remaining sexual perversions have their taboo status gradually eroded.
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