Noah Hutton’s Random Legal Move is a short film that explores artificial intelligence at a degree that is arguably existent today whilst maintaining a science fiction and dystopian aesthetic. Noah Hutton manages to effortlessly embed a rich, multidimensional take on the human condition through a personal story of family, humanity, and the advancement of science. The film’s strongly present and effective color schemes and fast pace help it establish an identity of its own that draws viewers in and leaves them wanting more as the story wraps up leaving many questions unanswered.
Random Legal Move follows the story of Clarice, a woman who works a regular job at a rec center, as she decides whether or not she should give away a desired piece of code her father left for her to inherit. The film’s opening scene not only introduces the dilemma of our main character Clarice, but also introduces the term Mosaic. The “Mosaic Brain Project” is an effort to create a full simulation of a rodent brain in an attempt to eventually model the human brain. The project’s artificial intelligence has been successful, but perhaps too successful as it functions perfectly failing to incorporate biological randomness and sometimes failure. To achieve a more realistic model that can make legal moves that are random, the manager of the project reaches out to Clarice who owns a precious piece of code that could help solve this problem. The film, through Clarice’s personal story, captures the essence of the human obsession with perfection and control even when it comes to random and unsystematic imperfections.
The film mostly uses cool colors like shades of blue and green which is a characteristic of many science fiction films that comforts and embraces viewers as they tour the unfamiliar and imagined worlds of these films. However, there are a number of scenes with very warm, almost monochromatic red and orange color schemes. The monochromatic schemes of the film accentuate the film’s dystopian essence, whereas the strong contrast produced when switching between these complementary color schemes introduces an intensity and urgency to the plot. This formulates a fast-paced world that we suddenly do not have access to as the film ends in a similar manner to waking up and cutting off an incomplete dream.
Random Legal Move is littered with tense moments between different characters but still maintains and ends on an optimistic and assuring note. Even though the film concludes leaving viewers wanting more, it still gives them a sense of calamity and comfort in the future of the story and characters, which is not often the case with artificial intelligence dystopias. Clarice’s final move and triumph is as brilliant as Noah Hutton’s triumph in crafting a modern-day artificial intelligence story that is personal, cerebral, and incredibly compelling.
About the author
Lujain is an undergraduate student studying computer engineering at New York University Abu Dhabi who is particularly invested in engineering applications in the world of biotechnology and biomedicine. She is also interested in exploring science and technology in film as well as the cultural and political significance of cinema.