While by no means the noteworthiest element of I Love My Dad — that’d be the [redacted for spoilers] story, hun — how the movie shows the ways that incessant texting splits our everyday reality is rather adept.
Online communication has reshaped how we live every second of our lives, perhaps no more so than how it lets a singular brain existence in multiple spaces at once. You may be walking in the park with your dad, but if you’re texting up a storm at the same time, then the sight of your pure corporeality barely scratches the surface, and is a poor, disconnected reflection of what’s actually occupying your head in that moment.
Cinema is uniquely designed to capture this split focus; courtesy of quick cuts, the camera can jump back and forth between depicting our outwardly-perceived reality, and then depicting the contents and conversations on our screens that are so dominating our attention, a constant oscillation I Love My Dad lucidly straddles.
Usually, the digitally obsessed in art are cast as either throwaway side characters — for example: a disassociated teen glued to their technological apparatus of choice, an easy joke that’s hardly the art’s main affair — or computer-chained man-babies still dwelling in their mother’s basement (think: “Make Love, Not Warcraft”). But wide swaths of I Love My Dad visualize and then plumb how the Internet Age fragments, fractures, and binds how our bodies and how our psyches move through, process, relate to, connect with, and experience our day to day.
Instead of treating online denizens as flippantly derisive, the movie explores the pros and cons of how technology allows us to transcend the less-than-ideal circumstances/limitations/bounds of our physical world. Digital relationships may be illusory, but that doesn’t make them feel any less true, even when predicated on lies, lies, and more lies.
The camera can bring this truth to vivid life, while deconstructing the potentially harmful fictions on which such meaning is (erroneously? or not?) built.