Review of “We met in virtual reality”, an empathetic and moving look at life in the cyber world

A series of digital cantoya balloons illuminate the screen. Below are two women who look at the virtual sky: they accompany each other after a tragedy. Although they are avatars (one with animal ears and the other with long, vivid neon pink hair), their connection is real: both friends may be thousands of miles apart in the real world, but technology allows them to share a moment intimate as if they were really next to each other. This is a scene from “We met in virtual reality”a beautiful work by director Joe Hunting, which brings us a curious question: what if that virtual world that we fear so much is actually the place where many can find a family, a home and love?

This documentary recorded entirely in virtual reality follows the day-to-day life of different people who have made a living in it: a sign language teacher, a girl who is dedicated to dancing, a couple of couples who met there. Through a direct cinematic style, the director follows them in their daily activities, capturing the incredible beauty of human coexistence: a date in an amusement park, an afternoon at the billiards, a beautiful wedding and the arrival of the New Year. are some of the events portrayed. We get to know these characters so well, that one stops seeing men with dragon horns or peculiar and ingenious chimeras, but people full of life and with much to tell.

Far from being naive, the film directly addresses many relevant issues such as loneliness, mental health, human relationships and the exploration of new identities. After a pandemic in which confinement had strong psychological effects on everyone, this world opens up as a possibility to meet new people and have a life beyond the four walls of our house. Thousands of people from different countries are able, even for a moment, to put aside their insecurities and fears, to show a completely new face of who they are. There are several characters who mention how this has saved their lives, and the director in an empathetic and very open-minded way is not quick to make judgments: he teaches us this reality and allows us to draw our own conclusions. In a world so full of horrible things in which many resort to banal entertainment to disconnect, is there really much to judge in having a life in a computer universe?

On the technical side, Joe Hunting (who works in part as a virtual event photographer) used a camera native to the platform and an external program to give the film a cinematic finish: far from being a screen recording, the technology it allows the director to photograph everything in a hand-held style and to make the movements of any production made in the physical world. This gives the work an intimacy befitting its themes, while helping us immerse ourselves in the scenes despite how fantastic everything is.

Virtual reality is often painted in movies as something negative to fear: its ability to isolate us from the real world has been a recurring theme in futuristic dramas about the fears of a world in which we no longer connect with each other by fault of said technology. Although social networks would seem to prove this theory right, “We met in virtual reality” presents the human connections that can be made from this resource. It shows us with joy and optimism a whole hidden world, an invitation that you should definitely accept.

“We met in virtual reality” is now available on hbo max.

Review of “We met in virtual reality”, an empathetic and moving look at life in the cyber world – La Estatuilla