Instant Doctor, a six-and-half minute short film, imagines a world in which machines carry out medical diagnosis and treatment. Serving as a tribute to the importance of doctors and nurses in the health care system, the film explores the future possibilities of artificial intelligence, in the form of a dystopia.
Directed by Brazilian filmmaking collective The Youth, with the help of New York creative agency The Bloc, Instant Doctor is probably one of the timeliest short films in recent years. Consider the story: Charles (Fernando Alves Pinto), a middle-aged man visits an automated medical booth in a subway station to get treatment for his nagging cough. Inside, he receives gut-wrenching news that shakes him to the core.
The film’s sci-fi premise works as a way to ponder what the future holds for health care, and Instant Doctor has been grounded in a modern aesthetic, clearly favouring realism over fantasy. Make no mistake, Instant Doctor is bleak. When Charles stands in the booth, he’s completely isolated and disconnected, as he checks in for treatment – and it’s quite creepy too. In an emotionless tone of voice, the instant doctor says, “Welcome to your appointment, Charles”, to which Charles replies, “What?”. It’s this awkward exchange that sets the precedent for what’s to follows, in which Charles receives news about the condition of his health via the A.I machine, which doesn’t at all seem outlandish – a testament to the film’s ability to create an authentic world within just a few minutes.
Combined with Pinto’s performance, The Youth’s direction is stunningly captured in the film, and the set design builds tension as Charles walks up to the booth, and we’re aligned with this character throughout. Using natural sounds and long shots of the subway, Instant Doctor draws us into a self-contained world, offering an intimate snapshot of society, governed by advanced technology.
Instant Doctor brings a highly debated topic to light through the eyes of a man that we don’t know much about. The Youth’s direction focuses on Charles’ movements, emotions, and gestures, and he becomes an immediately identifiable character, without even uttering a word. The core message of the film is that while AI machines are expertly programmed and innovative, society will always need a human touch, especially in the healthcare system. The future is, however, uncertain. Advanced technology is taking over, and Instant Doctor shares quite a scary vision, yet at the end, remains hopeful and appreciative of the humanity that health workers all around the world, show.
Dir: The Youth
Scr: Bianca Troncone, David Stemler, Bernardo Romero, Diogo Gameiro and The Youth
Cast: Fernando Alves Pinto
Prd: The Youth
DoP: Yuri Maranhão
Country: United States
Run Time: 6 minutes