The Shock of the Future is a film that pulses and beats with debut director Marc Collin’s love of music- more specifically, the new wave synth-pop of the late 1970s. Inspired by female pioneers in the genre like Suzanne Ciani, Delia Derbyshire, and Laurie Spiegel, the story follows a day in the life of Ana (Alma Jodorowsky), an electronic music composer who spends most of her time at a wall of synths and sequencers in her 70s-patterned Parisian apartment, experimenting with what she’s convinced are the sounds of the future.
It shines through that Collin is a musician himself (founder of the bossa nova group Nouvelle Vague and composer for films like Two Days in Paris and Les Kidnappeurs), not only in the curated selection of vinyls Ana listens to (groups like Devo, Nitzer Ebb, and Throbbing Gristle) but also in the time and affection he dedicates to portraying the creative process. Light on plot, some of the finest scenes happen when Ana is alone at her keyboard working out a riff, or delicately improvising with her friend Clara (French singer Clara Luciani): moments in which the audience is allowed to see the excitement- and fragility- of an idea coming together. A palette of warm orange and brown paired with analogue-flavored cinematography lends the film a nostalgic, retro feel, while the sexist comments from the men in Ana’s life and general skepticism of electronic music gives it a social and historical grounding, keeping the 70s setting from being merely decorative. But like the plot, the themes are simple; in the small world of Ana’s apartment, it’s the music that matters.