Technology has grown to the point where it’s nearly impossible to not be connected. We are always within arm’s reach to all the information in the world. At the same time, however, our connections with other people have never felt more distant. People now care more about follower counts than friends. Instead of just enjoying things, it’s now about how can we monetize it. Landscape with Invisible Hand addresses these things and so much more as it follows two teens as they struggle to adapt and surviving in a futuristic world that has been peacefully taken over by aliens. It’s a bold, beautiful, and bizarre film that feels more current than the future it portrays.
High school students Adam and Chloe are both barely getting by following the Vuvv alien takeover of the planet. While the Vuvv are peaceful creatures who have brought many technical advancements to Earth, nearly all work that can make any real money now revolves around serving them. In an effort to make some money, Adam and Chloe agree to broadcast their lives and budding romance to the Vuvv population, who are unfamiliar with such emotions as love and want to watch how humans interact. It’s easy enough at first, but as we know love is never that simple, and their new relationship is stressed by always being ‘on’ for their Vuvv viewers. And when their romance starts to crumble, things are complicated even further as one of their Vuvv subscribers sues them for false advertising, much to their shock. Now they have to not only navigate their own feelings but also the Vuvv legal system.
There is a lot going on with Landscape with Invisible Hand, and at the center of it all is this monetization of Adam’s and Chloe’s romance. They have good reasons to want to make some money by just streaming their lives, after all it’s just turning on and wearing a little device on the side of their head that connects them to the Vuvv. They both could use the money for their struggling families. But almost immediately you can see their demeanor and personality change when they’re logged in. Chloe especially becomes more concerned with viewers than with Adam, who himself was more hesitant about it in the beginning. It’s the same in how we all have our own online personas for social media and our real life personalities. There already are a portion of people who stream their entire lives online for viewers to watch, subscribe, and donate money. The only difference is there aren’t advanced aliens watching, just regular people.
Landscape with Invisible Hand explores the relationship we have with technology and others. People are becoming increasingly more concerned with cultivating their online social networks than developing any real or lasting relationships in person. It’s all about capturing that perfect shot for Instagram rather than living in the moment and enjoying the experience. Now that hit of dopamine comes from likes. People measure their worth in how many followers they have or in Chloe’s and Adam’s case, how many viewers are watching them.
The film also explores the inequality in wealth between the Vuvv and regular people. Adam’s mom used to be a lawyer but now struggles to find any job. School teachers have become irrelevant now that Vuvv technology connects directly to kids’ minds and provides everything they need to know about Vuvv culture. Any real amount of money is made directly serving the Vuvv, who mostly live in these giant floating cities hovering high in the sky. When Adam and Chloe travel up to visit the Vuvv who is suing them, they are driven around by a man who used to be a surgeon. Even though the Vuvv have no need for vehicles, he says that he makes more money driving them around than he ever did as a doctor and that he has a family to take care of. You either serve the Vuvv or you struggle to make ends meet. That’s the world they all live in.
Despite its futuristic setting, Landscape with Invisible Hand has never felt more relevant. The characters may be out of this world, but its story and themes are quite grounded. The Vuvv are fascinating creatures who use their squid-like tentacles to communicate. It’s bizarre yet fascinating to watch, especially given how normal it is to everyone around since this the world they live in. Like any good work of art, Landscape with Invisible Hand is open to interpretation and discussion. It’s merely a start to the discussion and lets the audience reach their own conclusions.
Landscape with Invisible Hand is a bold, beautiful, and bizarre film that feels more current than the future it portrays.