KIMI, Play “Oxytocin” by Billie Eilish
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Zoe Kravitz, Derek DelGaudio, Devin Ratray
Released February 10th, 2022
Have you ever tried to interact with Siri or Alexa and received a confusing response? Maybe you tried to order orange juice and instead heard facts about a Buffalo Bills running back. These mistakes are sometimes reviewed and resolved by people whose job it is to listen to audio taken from your device. Such is the vocation for Angela Childs (Zoe Kravitz), who works for the company responsible for a digital assistant named KIMI (the voice of Betsy Brantley).
Angela works from home in her spacious Seattle loft. She listens to audio clips of KIMI users and resolves confusing interactions with taps on her keyboard. One clip she listens to is loud techno music, underneath which Angela hears a faint commotion. An argument. A scream. Angela manipulates the audio with an editing program and uncovers what she believes to be a recording of murder. Angela takes the audio to KIMI brass, but they shut her down. Then men come to her residence to silence her.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the supporting cast includes Rita Wilson, Derek DelGaudio, Erika Christensen, Byron Bowers, Devin Ratray, and Robin Givens, but this is truly a showcase for Zoe Kravitz, who plays the blue-haired Angela with steely eyes and a no-nonsense attitude. You’re rooting for her from frame one, and in the end it’s delightful to watch her pick up a nail gun to defend herself. I always enjoy a bit of nail gun violence.
Written by David Koepp, KIMI owes a lot to Brian De Palma’s 1981 thriller Blow Out. In that film, John Travolta plays a character who, while recording sounds for a low budget movie, happens to capture audio of a murder. If you’ve never seen Blow Out, this movie may seem fresh and exciting. Due to the underwritten characters and unbelievable conspiracy, I found KIMI ultimately underwhelming. But thankfully it’s short.
It’s worth noting that in KIMI, the digital assistant isn’t the villain. The murder is uncovered because of the technology, and KIMI even helps Angela set things right. There are many who are uncomfortable with the thought of digital assistants in their home, listening to private conversations and sending the audio back to their corporate headquarters. I am not one of those people. I say bring on the machines! I’m excited for a world where we all have a little robot buddy, like in Star Wars or Super Toys Last All Summer Long.