Review by James Lindorf
Director Matt Kane is making his directorial debut with Auggie, based on a screenplay he co-wrote with Marc Underhill. Richard Kind (Argo), in a rare leading role stars as Felix, the former right-hand man of his architectural firm’s founder, who is now being forced into early retirement by the owner’s daughter (Larisa Oleynik). As a parting gift, he is given the latest in augmented reality technology, Auggie glasses. When Felix’s wife, Anne (Susan Blackwell), gets a promotion and his daughter, Grace, gets serious with her boyfriend, Felix suddenly feels very alone. Depressed, Felix turns to Auggie, eventually developing an emotional connection to his companion (Christen Harper), to the detriment of his relationships with his wife and daughter. Felix will have to battle to his growing addiction to technology or risking losing his family. Auggie will be available September 20th in theaters in New York and Los Angeles, and accessible to the rest of the country digitally on VOD.
This sci-fi drama takes place in a future that could only be ten or so years away. As technology improves, and our dependence on it deepens, there is no doubt that dates will be forgotten and promises broken. It will be hard to fight the temptation and the ease of spending time with virtual companions designed to do nothing but make us happy. These inarguable facts root Auggie in reality, making Felix, Anne, and Grace more relatable.
With a runtime of a mere 81 minutes, Auggie manages an interesting feat of making its viewers feel every minute, while also feeling too short. Auggie’s unhurried pace may lull some viewers to sleep, but the strength of Kind’s performance should be enough to enthrall most. While there are a couple of jokes scattered throughout, this is a somber story that is more likely to cause introspection than joy. Even the cinematography, with its muted tones, adds to the depressing air of the film.
Like Felix with Anne, my relationship with Auggie is good, but lacking. It’s just not there for me enough, with its abbreviated runtime. I also want a little more out of the story and more complexity for the titular character. There is a chance 81 minutes would have been enough if the story just focused on Felix. However, Anne has her own very similar story about a relationship that could develop between her and her boss. There is also a completely useless subplot about Grace moving in with her boyfriend and her parents’ varied reactions. Auggie is well above average for a first entry in feature-length films and should garner Kane a lot of attention, but Auggie is a little too off the mark for him to be mentioned with the likes of Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) or Jordan Peele (Get Out).