The opening film at this year’s Visions du Reel festival “Love and Engineering”, to be shown Friday 25th at 1930 at the Theatre de Marens and Saturday 26th at 1200 at the Salle Communale in Nyon, is a documentary about a Bulgarian computer engineer living in Finland who thinks he has developed a scientific formula which will provide seductive powers to those who apply it.
He explains the theory to his fellow (male) colleagues and lets them loose in and around the streets, nightclubs and cafés of Helsinki to test out his theories. His colleagues are a mixed bunch, from the silent, quiet types (who spend most of their time programming or playing video games and who are far more comfortable with a virtual world than a real one), to those who are slightly more adept in chatting to the opposite sex, but still haven’t found love and long term relationships have eluded them.
There are some poignant, almost painful scenes in the film: men being rejected by women, men sat in cafés desperately trying to make conversation with a blind date, men telling jokes which don’t really make the women laugh. The experiment in using the formula for love continues – along with lots moments of levity including a moment when one lonely man says, “I don’t end a woman to do the cleaning, I have a cleaning robot to do that” yet there is also a profound sadness to the mens’ dilemma and their inability to find a soul mate.
Apart from the inclusion of one scene where we see a female professor chatting to the men, (she gives some sound advice to these men who are full of theories) we don’t hear from any other women in this documentary, we don’t hear their side of the story of what they felt on the blind dates or what they felt about the men themselves. This tactic only adds to the allusion that women are a mystery, this plus the emotive electronic music throughout makes it a fascinating film. Director Tonislav Hristov has found a winning formula with this documentary unlike his protagonists men who are still searching for the formula for love.