What happened to Renata Wiskirska that she does not remember? She remembers her husband, Jan, she remembers their son, Kamil, and that she loves them both; she remembers that Jan left for work and locked the gate behind him and that she reached over to pass him his lunch and kiss him goodbye.

When Jan arrived home, the house was in silent disarray, chairs overturned, Kam bruised and terrified, Renata passed out, unable to explain what incident had occurred, only knowing that her son will now not talk to her; family counselling is advised but it is soon clear that though they accompany her it is only Renata who is to be examined.

Trying to reconnect with Kam he shows her videos of them together from when he was a toddler of which she has no memory – how could she have been with him eight years ago when she has only known the family for three years? And if those earlier memories have been erased, what else could have been removed? How much of her life is a lie?

Adapted from his own novel, I Am REN (Jestem REN) is the feature debut of director Piotr Ryczko, starring Marta Król as the titular Regenerative Emotive Neuro-being, connected to the house systems which she monitors and controls with ease but struggling with the family to whom she has been bonded despite the promise of the stable and dedicated service of an emotionally perfect surrogate.

REN aware of her identity, this is neither the cosy suburbia of Stepford nor the soaring glass skyscrapers of Caprica City so much as a cold splash in the face from the waters of Solaris, an isolated compound in once dense forest now half dead from acid rain, an environment as clinical and unwelcoming her home has become; if she no longer belongs there, then what place is there for her anywhere, a flawed being?

With aspects of Ex Machina and Morgan, I am REN suffers from an existential crisis of identity, like Uncanny shifting the conflicts and complexities of artificial life into a domestic setting but then having no clear path how to progress them, the expected cracks beneath the surface exposed by the eroding trust no more engaging than paving stones, scenes from an artificial marriage dissolving without solution.

Sci-Fi London 2021 concluded on Sunday 13th December



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