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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Apple’s Sunny is a grief-stricken crime dramedy with a smile on its face

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Greater than yet one more sci-fi parable a couple of future plagued by dangerous robots, Colin O’Sullivan’s 2018 novel The Darkish Guide was a lyrical meditation on grieving and the feelings we venture onto on a regular basis objects. The ebook’s premise, prose, and thematic ambivalence about artificially clever machines made it really feel just like the form of story that might solely be tailored as a grim drama. However Apple TV Plus and A24’s Sunny brings a brand new depth and nuance to O’Sullivan’s story by tempering it with wholesome doses of caprice and animatronic puppetry.

Just like The Darkish Guide (which appears to have been just lately retitled in anticipation of Apple’s new present), Sunny revolves round Suzie Sakamoto (Rashida Jones), a girl making an attempt to piece her life collectively following a aircraft crash that (seemingly) killed her husband Masa (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and their younger son Zen (Fares Belkheir).

As an American transplant with a restricted potential to select up languages or make new mates, grieving in a near-future Japan is a disconcerting expertise for Suzie. Even together with her overbearing mother-in-law Noriko (Judy Ongg) always at her door, and everybody being linked by their Gadgets — pillow-like good devices that really feel impressed by It Follows’ shell cellphone — Suzie’s loss leaves her spiraling right into a profound loneliness. However as painful as it’s dwelling in a home filled with reminiscences, what unnerves Suzie most is the surprising arrival of a home homecare robotic referred to as Sunny (Joanna Sotomura), who insists that Masa programmed her particularly for the mourning widow earlier than the crash.

There’s a pronounced sense of dread working by way of O’Sullivan’s novel that makes its homebot-filled world really feel like a chilly, darkish place, the place the drumbeat of technological progress has satisfied many to embrace machines they don’t fully perceive. Jones brings a few of that vitality to her witheringly acerbic Suzie who, like her ebook counterpart, doesn’t initially belief Sunny and lashes out on the homebot because it begins taking good care of chores. 

However in contrast to The Darkish Guide’s mechanical servants with their unblinking sensors that shift from a menacing shade of scarlet to blue as they course of info, all of Sunny’s robots are introduced as smiling, friend-shaped beings whose cartoony designs are reflections of a bigger shift towards aesthetically playful expertise.

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Had Sunny been created fully out of CGI, the vitality between Sotomura and Jones may not play so dynamically because the homebot and her proprietor snipe at one another within the present’s first few episodes. However as a result of Sunny is an animatronic puppet whose animated facial expressions have been real-time recreations of Sotomura’s, there’s a realness to their interactions that makes them each really feel like weightier (within the narrative sense) characters consequently. 

By way of Sunny and Suzie’s caregiver / caretaker relationship, Sunny faucets into one thing very actual about how societies flip to expertise to deal with personal and communal issues. And but the silliness of Sunny being a googly-eyed puppet who we by no means see (however presumably can) go up stairs is a big a part of how the present additionally manages to work as a comedy that’s actually about its two leads making an attempt to unravel a pulpy thriller.

Whereas few of Sunny’s twists and turns are fully novel, the present’s dedication to creating its world really feel like a believable imaginative and prescient of a future the place individuals’s devices work to handle their wants is unbelievable. Instead of the ebook’s allusions to tensions with North Korea, Sunny places extra emphasis on yakuza boss Hime (You) and the shadowy neighborhood of individuals illegally jailbreaking homebots to carry out capabilities they’re not technically supposed to have the ability to do. 

A few of Sunny’s most fascinating worldbuilding comes by means of its villains and their fixation with the fabled Darkish Guide key to show homebots into homicide machines. However as Suzie and Sunny’s intrigue pulls them deeper into Japan’s underworld, you may really feel Apple setting Sunny as much as proceed rising past its first season in a approach that looks like it may result in an excessive amount of of a superb factor.

Sunny additionally stars annie the clumsy, Jun Kunimura, and Shin Shimizu. The present’s first two episodes hit Apple TV Plus on July tenth.

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