Having multiple jobs is common in today’s economy, with side hustle after side hustle surfacing in the precarious workforce landscape. In Noah Hutton’s too close for comfort Lapsis, we get a glimpse of what could be with big conglomerates, competition in the job market, and automation.
Ray (Dean Imperial) is a courier who looks after his ailing brother Jamie (Babe Howard). When Jamie has the opportunity to be treated for a strain of chronic fatigue called Omnia, Ray decides to take an extra job laying cable for Quantum, a corporation cornering the market in the world of technology. With giant cubes plotted out in the wilderness as the starting point, workers lay thousands of feet of cable to keep the company access growing. It can be a lucrative job, but there is also the threat of automation. Little robots called carts may usurp your designated route, laying more cable faster and canceling your earnings.
A tough guy with a big heart from Queens, Ray is clearly out of his element, and he the ropes through trial and error and the help from other cablers, but he soon finds there is much more to his user or “trail” name since he finds out it belonged to someone else. Amidst his confusion and some clues from a fellow cabler Anna (Madeline Wise), Ray must tackle this mystery for his livelihood and a larger purpose.
Hutton has written and directed a fascinating look at the relationship between earning money and labor rights. Many people right now will do whatever work they can find to pay their bills and put a roof over their heads, and at times, it’s regardless of the societal cost only out of desperation. Even though the film has a humorous and satirical edge, adding the unbeatable competition of automation gives a sobering look at what’s around the corner for the working masses. Hutton also did the scoring, which provides the film with a quirky, futuristic feel in mostly natural settings. You’ll get some admirable performances too. Imperial is endearing as Ray, who is determined to help his younger brother regain his health, and the character’s self-discovery is great to watch.
As a filmmaker, Hutton has made documentaries, but his style is quite cinematic and reminds me of Yorgos Lanthimos for his attention to how humans behave. If you’re in Canada, I highly recommend Lapsis streaming at the Fantasia Film Festival until Sep 2. (Playing with the short The Nurturing).