Review: T.I.M (a.k.a The Incredible Machine)

In media res, is one of those phrases that is bandied about, at times a bit haphazardly. Such that it has become cliché inasmuch as we don’t really consider its true meaning at times and the functionality this technique can have. Beginning in the middle of things, which is what in media res translates to, factors into this story about T.I.M. is set in the future, in a world where personalized robots have become commonplace and Tibor (Dyon Wilkens) and his father (Bas Keijzer) have one that is a relic among many generations of newer better android assistants. However, these are things that we as an audience infer as the movie travels along a bit. It is not something handed to us via voice-over or other forced exposition. These facts are a given combined with an in media res beginning quickly tip you off, again subtly, that this movie is more concerned with other things than the robot and the sci-fi elements of the story.

At the heart of the story is a lonely, socially maladjusted Tibor; his struggling, verklempt father Arend; and a journey to try and find the man who built T.I.M. in the first place to try and fix him, holding on to him rather than having to part with him. Taking into account the fact that Tibor lost his mother when he was young the quest to get T.I.M. fixed takes on a thin veil masking the desire he has to keep some semblance of his mother’s memory alive.

Yet simultaneously the film also builds in and addresses Tibor’s struggle to relate to his peers as his pain and isolation have made him unable to relate to those around him. Readily confessing that T.I.M is his only friend, he faces challenges in owning up to his shortcomings, learning to trust, communicate, as well as the meaning of friendship.

Most of that learning how to have a friend is personified in the hot-and-cold relationship he has with Kiki (Claudia Kanne) as she helps him along his path to where he thinks he’ll find answers. He does just not in the way it was expected.

What’s loveliest about this film is that while all this is readily apparent it never hits you over the head, and it is still as enjoyable on the surface as it is in its subtext. The film balances emotions well, it keeps some humor in, there is a bittersweet nature to it, some sadness, and surpassing beauty to it all.

It’s a lustrously shot film with an enchanting score that closes its circle well and leaves the characters in a great place, so much so that you enjoy the journey as much as the destination. The film moves briskly apace and is entertaining throughout and can be enjoyed equally by audiences of all ages.

The irony that at times the best examinations of humanity are made when contrasting us to artificial intelligence is not lost on filmmakers. The motif still appears to be fertile ground yielding much fruit, this is just the latest in a long line of great films to prove that point. Exactingly done and precisely performed, it’s an enrapturing experience that should be sought out.