I’m Here is a short Spike Jonze film from 2010 about a love story in LA between two robots. It starts with the introduction of Sheldon, an isolated male robot who rides the bus to and from the library for work everyday before going home and recharging. A female robot is introduced, one who drives (despite a ban on robots driving), dreams (which is surprising to Sheldon who wasn’t aware robots could dream), and lives life with abandon. She shows him a way of life, which, while risky, is really living as opposed to Sheldon’s previous life as a series of compulsory habits.
This is the first movie I have seen which portrays robots or any kind of technology as being emotionally capable of vulnerability. The female keeps doing reckless things which cause her to lose limbs and body parts and Sheldon either fixes her with his toolkit or gives her his body parts (first an arm and eventually his entire body.) This isn’t unlike people you find in real life, who mean well and try to live well, but get into situations which require rescue and the emotional or temporal sacrifices of those around them. The fragility of technological parts prove a good metaphor for the fragility of our psychological parts. Though this short film can be seen as a sweet and simple romance about an ideal man (perhaps only a robot could be ideal) who gives everything up for the woman he loves, I think of this short film as more of a cautionary tale about the dangers of love and makes you question the notions you may have about relationships and the ideal. I was frustrated for much of the movie because their whole relationship, he was giving up so much of himself to her. First an arm, then a leg, (the fact that they were robots and the interchangeability of robot parts was also a fascinating equalizer of gender) and eventually, like any relationship, he entrusted all of himself to her…in this case literally…and at least Sheldon was lucky enough to keep his head, as not all of us can do that. I was not happy at the end once Sheldon had given up his entire body to the female robot. The preservation of individual identity is something I care about in my own friendships and relationships, so this very physical showing of the ways we graft ourselves onto each other was terrifying. It took me some time after watching to realize that an equal (or somewhat close) exchange had been made on her part. Though it was clear the whole time what Sheldon was giving up for the relationship, Francesca was giving up much of her identity as well. Because it becomes difficult for Sheldon to ride the bus to and from the library once he starts giving Francesca limbs, he becomes dependent on her for transportation as well as care. Though it was painful to see his growing dependence on her, it was good to see that she began to take form as someone who was dependable. Before this relationship, it didn’t seem like she was responsible for herself or anyone around her and she only starts to become a cohesive individual in the film when she gives up some of her independence/non-commitment. So in a way, this was a short film about one of my worst fears, how a degree of lacking independence and a willingness to be dependent may be necessary for relationships.