Director Matthew Minson talks about the theme of YOU HAVE ARRIVED
"l like to work backward from a theme. In fact, I think it’s the importance of the theme that takes a story and elevates it to art. In that way theme is the very marrow of a film. The theme of this deceptively simple, short narrative – in which a young couple is socially manipulated by the communications devices designed to serve them – is most simply stated as one of threat. Not necessarily from some menacing rise of the artificially intelligent machines, though that certainly is a part, but rather from the seductive ease of surrendering our ability to critically think to the point of dependence, and ultimately, subordination .
Enter Kevin and Courtney, who we first meet driving toward us, at eye level, surrounded by an exterior scene of warmest autumnal colors. With the first shot inside the car, we know exactly who they are, the “every couple". From the opening we see that they are self-absorbed, and are simultaneously physically proximal and psychologically at a distance. Kevin is disgruntled at having to “go to a mall” and finds consolation in his acknowledgement that the “food court was nice” and in an entirely biological reference. At the same time, Courtney displays a nearly sexual crescendo and climax, to Kevin’s chagrin, when she rips open the package of her newly purchased “Alexis” electronic service device. This is her new, greater love and she emphasizes it with a kiss that seems a little like a seductive consummation of consumerism.
Structurally, the film follows a disciplined arc through a series of acts with the first ending with the devices (a tablet and a phone based GPS system) arguing about taking a left or making a U-turn and then turning their attention toward the humans with the GPS addressing Kevin with a threatening tone. Act Two continues with the devices exerting Machiavellian leverage first by threatening to reveal Courtney’s history of clandestine online consumerism and then ends, as it began, with a threat to Kevin in the form of revealing his explicit computer browser searches. By this point our couple is completely divided, not even looking at each other, but staring divergently, with an expression reminiscent of the final scene in “The Graduate”. The Third Act proceeds not with the dramatic hero’s journey, but with a tragic hero’s ending. The car is no longer coming toward us in a warm setting. It’s seen from overhead – by the surveilling eye of a drone, of God, of something far more disturbing from the vantage of a cold and wintry, machine-blue sky. Even at ground level, car alignment to us has changed. It is now facing away. Finally, the end comes, like good theater, on an effectively direct narrative note, offered from a black screen to the audience. It leaves us with an unsettling point that is us… we have actually arrived in this new reality.
Then again… maybe this is just an amusing little comedy. At the very least it will serve as a reminder to clear one’s browser history when it’s done."
Director, Matthew Minson