The Shock of the Future (Marc Collin, 2019)


Make Your Own Kind of Music

Sometimes we need to look to the past to see the future.

Musician Marc Collin, best known for his cover band projects Nouvelle Vague and Hollywood, Mon Amour, directs an unambitious but ultimately rewarding ode to the creative process. With an endearing retro style, Collin plays with anachronisms as the movie is set in the late seventies, when electronic music was getting bigger and bigger, but also includes cameos from contemporary acts singing their own songs.

Alex (Alma Jodorowsky who, yes, is Alejandro’s granddaughter) needs to compose a jingle, but her mind is so active and full of ideas she can’t focus on a single one. What Alex suffers from is writer’s block. It doesn’t help she’s not the most responsible musician: she’s constantly procrastinating, hardly answers her phone and abandons one of her projects at the last minute. The music industry’s misogyny doesn’t do her any favours either. She’ll eventually compose a song. But not the one she’s supposed to. Because inspiration comes with the things we’re passionate about.

If the story feels schematic, like it was adapted from a theatre play, is because Marc Collin is not as interested in developing a plot as he is in showing how creativity works. Alex barely leaves her stage-like apartment and meets all the other characters one by one in a methodical successive order. First, she’s visited by her boss, then by an expert who introduces her to bands like The Human League or Suicide, and later by a vocalist for hire who befriends her. This sequence of events might be pedestrian but helps the movie to tell viewers that music, like any other artistic expression, is not a one-man job. Alex manages to record a song when she starts listening to upcoming bands, finding out about new technologies and improvising with fellow singers. Towards the end, The Shock of the Future concludes that what truly matters is not great reviews or immense popularity but the reward of creating something by yourself.

Many will deem The Shock of the Future as a minor work due to its short length and unashamed lack of conflict, but the movie’s contagious enthusiasm should be enough to invite everyone to sit down and arrange some music, think up a story or, I don’t know, write a blog entry.