Overview: LOVE CHILD explores the growing problem of Internet addiction through the story of a couple tried in South Korea in 2010 for the negligent death of their infant daughter due to their obsessive online gaming. Director Valerie Veatch (HBO’s ME @ THE ZOO) skillfully weaves a tale of personal tragedy together with social commentary, shining a light on how new technology can have unforeseen dire consequences. The film documents the first trial for internet addiction and the subsequent ruling that set a global precedent in a world where the line between real life and virtual reality can blur.
Expectations: Well, I did something I don’t usually do with a documentary when it came to this one.I read the Press Release in full before I watched it because I was so intrigued by the premise. What I got was a twelve paragraph long piece all about this documentary. It was so through that I felt that I didn’t need to watch the film because the article was that detailed. In short, I don’t think I’ll do that again. The whole point is to have the work itself tell its story. I don’t really have any expectations because the press notes revealed it all. But, that didn’t stop me from watching it or its Trailer.
Gut Reaction: Ouch, this was sadly a bit of a mess for me. I didn’t see it coming either.I guess it was because I was so blown away by the premise. I don’t remember this in the news at all and when I learned of this incident I thought this would be a killer documentary. I don’t care that it was an entry in film festivals it still didn’t quite leave the big impact I wanted. I’ll explain.
This 75 minute film does not seem to spend a great amount of time on the actual case. For example, the couple is never interviewed. What facts and footage there was regarding gets played over a few times. Instead, most of the documentary focuses on the gaming environment in the country, the issue of addition to video gaming and the actual game at the crux of the case. There are some interesting facts that do pop up in that vein including the unbelievable fact that the couple as game players were nurturing and protecting a child in the game while all the while neglecting and starving their real premature child. It is incredible. Nuggets like that make this piece quite interesting at times.
Two elements of the film that prompt gripes from me also are the subtitles and the supplemental footage. Now I can get into subtitles in foreign films, etc., but in this film several phrases just moved off the screen before I could read them. They were in an intelligible font and color luckily but Koreans speak so fast that the subtitles often whizzed by which was annoying. Then there were pauses in story with instrumental backed montages of life in South Korea and in the PC rooms there. There was so much footage of the Prius game that it almost turned into an infomercial for the game as if the intent was to get the documentary viewer addicted to it too. It just could all have been executed better I thought.
In Conclusion: The talking heads in the work do piece together some interesting facts about game addiction and enough about this case to make an interesting film, but in my opinion, it could have been boiled down into a better documentary than this. The circumstances cannot be shaken and sets an odd precedent in the rapid techno society of today.
Other HBO air dates are 07.31 at 11:15am & 6:00pm, 08.03 at 4:00pm, 08.05 at 1:15pm and 08.16 at 8:30am. It also appears on HBO2 and on HBOGo.
Next Week: NIXON BY NIXON: IN HIS OWN WORDS. Actual aural quotes from the former President himself help shape the kind of individual he was.