Bianca is a freelance journalist and documentary critic. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.

Could you ever consider having a full-fledged relationship with a silicone doll? In Melody Gilbert’s thought-provoking documentary the relationship between humans and dolls is under exploration, and by watching it you‘re slowly entering into an exercise in human empathy.

Silicone Soul

Melody Gilbert

Dumitrita Pacicovschi

USA

Everyone feels the need for intimacy, love and companionship. It can be a lifelong quest to obtain these ideals, and perhaps even harder to keep them. But what happens if you are not successful in your quest – or at least not in any conventional way? And what if the answer to these longings is so peculiar that understanding it requires an exercise in imagination and empathy most people find hard to bear?

«Watching Silicone Soul might make you feel uncomfortable at times.»

In her latest film Silicone Soul, director Melody Gilbert explores the lives and experiences of people who find love and comfort in human-size silicone dolls. But instead of characterising these people as weird and deviant (as perhaps many would), the film casts a non-judgmental eye on the lives of people who find it hard to be accepted by others. The result is a glimpse into a hidden world that is vulnerable and all about loneliness as well as the very primal human need to bond with others and to feel loved.

An exercise in human empathy

Silicone Soul is a mix of interviews, scenes from daily life and animated sequences that pose one single question: what meaning can a doll bring into someone’s life? This is a question that most people in the lives of Gilbert’s characters don’t have the time or courage to explore. The answer thus remains both a complex and multi-layered one, which turns  Silicone Soul into an exercise in human empathy.

The non-conventional bond with dolls has previously been explored in other films, with different levels of empathy. This year’s Dream Girl – Oliver Schwarts’ touching short documentary – explores the daily life and intimacy of a man and his doll and serves as a good example of an empathic approach.

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