‘Kimi’: An eye-opening cultural commentary
Mary O’Connor | Monday, February 21, 2022
In our current age of technological advancements, our lived experiences are becoming more and more intertwined with other people. The line between private and public life slips farther and farther into oblivion as our society continues to evolve towards digitalization. In the midst of all this progression, it’s easy to wonder how much is too much. New technologies, such as the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home, are examples of how smart devices have infiltrated households across the United States. Often, consumers blindly trust these convenient devices that are actually collecting personal information on users. The omnipresence of these lurking listeners is on the forefront of people’s minds now more than ever, as the concepts of surveillance and personal privacy enter the limelight.
“Kimi,” a new film streaming on HBOMax, starring world-renowned actress Zoë Kravitz, is a great representation of the fears surrounding surveillance and the growth of technology in the modern age. In the film, Kravitz plays Angela Childs, an introverted work-from-home tech analyst who struggles with bouts of agoraphobia. She analyzes data from Kimi, a network of speech-activated devices that allows users to perform simple tasks, like turning off lights or streaming music, with ease. When listening to the data stream, Angela uncovers a brutal murder that was picked up by a Kimi device. When she attempts to report the crime to her superiors, Angela’s life is put in danger by the corrupt company operators who want to protect their brand and ensure customers never learn the extent of Kimi’s abilities to hear their everyday activities. Ultimately, Angela escapes the various dangers that come her way and finds justice for the woman whose murder was recorded by the Kimi device.
Immediately after watching “Kimi,” my mind ran to the various moments in which my Amazon Alexa spontaneously lit up without anyone saying “Hey, Alexa,” the phrase meant to make the device tune into conversations. I was filled with fear surrounding the role that technology plays in my life. As someone who hardly ever reads the fine print on privacy policies and terms and conditions, I realized I’m unaware of the true extent of technology’s infiltration in my private life. Like so many others, I place blind trust in the technologies I have embraced as ways to make my life easy and convenient. “Kimi” was my wake-up call, as it forced me to think about my blatant disregard of my understanding of my own privacy.
Despite its eerie portrayal of technology, “Kimi” also placed emphasis on how technology is a positive force in people’s lives. Interestingly, the Kimi device functions as both the thing that puts Angela in danger, but also saves her life. When Angela is trapped in her apartment with dangerous men, she uses the Kimi device to confuse and disrupt her captors. Ultimately, this device is a huge reason why she makes it out of this situation relatively unscathed. The Kimi device is also the only reason Angela is able to deliver justice to the murdered woman. The evidence of the crime was recorded and discovered on the device. Directors interestingly chose to not entirely push viewers towards a disdainful view of technology. Rather, each person is invited to draw their own conclusions about the implications of the advancements of our technological age.
“Kimi” left me with a renewed sense of awareness about the role that technology plays in my life, and invited me to reexamine my definition of privacy in our modern era of fast-paced communication and constant access to others.
Starring: Zoë Kravitz, Rita Wilson
Director: Steven Soderbergh
If you like: “Black Mirror,” “Bladerunner”
Shamrocks: 4 out of 5