We Met In VR Review Sundance London 2022

The Plot

Shot during the pandemic and exclusively in the online world of VR chat this unique documentary follows a varied group of people as they live, work and play in the newly emerging worlds of virtual reality.

The Good

While wealthy tech tycoons like Mark Zuckerberg greedily try to sell the dream of someday escaping to a fully immersive digital reality, this wonderful documentary shows that for millions of people across the globe that is actually already a huge part of their daily existence.

Uniquely filmed entirely within the luridly colourful worlds of popular platform VR Chat, this film serves as a fascinating and immersive deep dive into that environment. Explored intimately through in depth interviews with the people who are literally living second lives in this strange and ever evolving new digital space.

As the film unfolds it does a magnificent job of answering fundamental questions about what this new technology currently is and what it could ultimately one day become. In particular the heartfelt and often deeply personal stories shared by those who have already embraced this new ‘reality’ goes a long way to countering the inevitable scepticism of those most perplexed by why people would actually want to seemingly abandon the real world in favour of life in a ‘video game’.

The film celebrates the surprisingly wealth of opportunities that VR presents as people find love, learn, play and briefly escape or even overcome the loss, turmoil and anxiety of their ‘real’ lives. Perhaps the film’s most impressive achievement is that by the closing credits the question about what exactly constitutes our ‘real’ lives has become a much more nuanced discussion.

While the film doesn’t carelessly gloss over the obvious issues with people’s behaviour in the anonymous mostly consequence free wild west of the internet, it’s simply purposefully more preoccupied with the many amazing positive qualities of this vibrant and ever growing digital community.

Ultimately the film becomes more intriguing the longer you watch. Fully realising its ambition by the end of challenging our current perhaps soon to be outdated concepts of identity, social interactions and the very limits of technology itself.

The Bad

The early phases of the film may be especially jarring and disorientating for those unaccustomed to the very specific visuals of Virtual Reality. In contrast to the real world or even the amazingly polished special effects of Hollywood blockbusters, the current state of Virtual reality is far more modest and glitch ridden.

On a big screen every moment of temporarily frozen graphics or characters and objects moving in suddenly erratic and nonsensical ways in on stark display. While it doesn’t diminish the emotional and philosophical impact of the documentary, it is something the uninitiated will have to get used to.

Likewise it’s fair to say that the largely anime inspired avatars that inhabit the virtual world may feel a little odd to novice eyes. The literally glittering array of cat ears, dragon wings, jiggling boobs, animal tails and technicoloured hair may simply seem a little ‘silly’ at first. Perhaps this might at least initially mask some of the thought provoking and serious topics the film explores. But the film offers exceedingly rich rewards for the patient and open minded.

The Ugly Truth

We Met In VR is a truly fascinating piece of documentary cinema that captures the birth of a transformative new technology. It serves as a handy initiation for those unfamiliar with the ever expanding digital horizons of this brave new world and also as a surprisingly poignant meditation on human identity and relationships.

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