Now on Netflix: Eva
Warning: Mild spoilers follow
Eva is the rare treat on Netflix, the kind of film that you add to your queue and leave there for several months (or has it been years?) until one day you feel like checking it out and wish you had taken a chance on it sooner.
Daniel Bruhl (who I am glad is getting more exposure recently, because he's excellent) plays Alex Garel, a robotics engineer who is moving back to his hometown for the first time in ten years in order to help his former university design a new line of robotic child. Alex is a prodigy when it comes to robot design, as evidenced by the robotic cat that he designs that follows him everywhere. It's not really clear why the university wants to design a robotic child, but there you go. Alex left home under somewhat mysterious circumstances, but we find out that it had something to do with a failed relationship with Lana (Marta Etura), his former lover who is now his brother David's (Alberto Ammann) wife. I know....awwwwwkwwaaaarrrrd....
Alex (and the film, by extension) has a somewhat dismissive view of most children - "Use a boring child, and you get a boring robot," he tells Julia (Anne Canovas), the woman who has hired him - but he is entranced by Eva (Claudia Vega), a ten year old girl he finds as he's cruising past the school playground, which is not creepy at all. Eva calls him out on it, though, and the two strike up a conversation, only for Alex to discover later that Eva is actually his niece. It also is not weird that he offers Eva a piece of candy. He's really good not being weird around children. Anyway, Alex wants to use Eva as the not-boring muse for his new robot, and the two strike up an endearing friendship. Eva, as the child, is of course the only person who can get the normally stoic Alex to smile, but things are made a little more complicated by the whole he-used-to-be-in-love-with-Eva's-mother thing.
A few predictable twists, all but standard in a film like this, don't distract from the overall heart. While Eva may not dive as deep into the nature of human existence as most android-centric films tend to do, it chooses instead to build relationships, particularly between Alex and Eva. It also does a good job of revealing the family circumstances behind Alex's departure gradually, which adds to some of the suspense.
My one issue was with the robots themselves, specifically the childlike prototype that Alex tinkers away on. It's voice and movements are such that, I have to tell you, if I saw it walking around my house in the middle of the night I'd probably reduce to a pile of sprockets real quick.
Even still, the final twenty minutes or so of the movie pack an emotional punch credited to the relationship building that happened before it. It may not leave you cheering, but it will leave you with more than a few things to think about.