Brooker’s Law states that any time an artist makes a statement about technology’s impact on our lives, someone will inevitably make a comparison to Black Mirror. It’s a well-worn cliché at this point, and one that director Jack Marchetti cleverly manages to avoid with his short film Compatibility. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have anything to say about technology’s impact on our lives; just that, for the majority of its 12-minute runtime, it’s a pretty simple (and pretty sweet) story.
Our protagonist is a programmer at Facebook who, on a date with a tech reporter, tells her about his secret project: an algorithm that predicts how romantically compatible any two people are likely to be. Here and there, the influence of The Social Network is plain to see – in Simon Taufique’s score, the Sorkin-esque banter between guy and girl, the Eisenbergian awkwardness of the programmer – but mostly we’re just watching two people with great chemistry getting to know each other. Even the programmer’s reticence to make his new feature public comes not from any moral quandary, but the fear of losing his job.
It’s only in the end credits that Marchetti tips his hand and hints at a possible fallout, in the form of Facebook Live videos from users comparing their compatibility. But even here, he resists the urge to go full Brooker and leaves on an optimistic tone. Cinema and social media have had a complicated relationship over the past decade or so, and it’s refreshing to see Marchetti take a more nuanced tone.
It’s particularly interesting considering how Marchetti has used the internet to get Compatibility made: after his screenplay became a quarterfinalist for the Nicholls Fellowship in Screenwriting in 2015, he turned to Kickstarter to raise the funds to make this short. Here’s hoping that we see more of Marchetti’s work in the very near future.
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CAST: John Kroft, Robin Rose Singer, Austin Scott, Hannah Duncan, Christie Maturo
DIRECTOR: Jack Marchetti
WRITERS: Jack Marchetti and Brian Marchetti
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daniel Katz
COMPOSER: Simon Taufique
SYNOPSIS: A Facebook engineer builds an algorithm to test his romantic compatibility with an attractive tech journalist using their Facebook profile data.