Sleep Dealer is a fascinating 2009 sci-fi movie in a hypothetical dystopian future about the exploitation of Mexican workers.
The story begins with a poor boy living in a small village with his family.
That place was once prosperous, but there was no more water for anyone after the construction of a big dam.
Also, after some acts of protest against the government, some military drones are constantly surveying the region.
When the boy intercepts some confidential transmissions, the army destroys his house and kills his father.
Since they believe him to be a dangerous terrorist, authorities begin searching, and he must hurry to escape.
Although he doesn’t know anyone, he moves to the city and starts looking for someone who can implant a computer implant under his skin.
Indeed, many people work in these Sleep Dealers, factories where workers maneuver robots at enormous distances in virtual reality.
They call them that because, unfortunately, many suffer accidents due to excessive hours and dangerous malfunctions.
After managing to escape from a swindler, he meets a computer-savvy girl who personally grafts one of these implants onto him.
Thereupon, he finally gets some cash, mostly sending it to what’s left of his family.
He also develops a feeling with this girl, a very successful writer of virtual videoblogs.
Until one day, a soldier reaches him, and he’ is the same one piloting the drone that killed his father.
Invoking his forgiveness, he offers him an opportunity for revenge and, at the same time to save his beloved village.
Dystopian and socially conscious sci-fi
Due to the global pandemic, we have seen considerable development of remote working in recent years.
Already in 2009, Sleep Dealer took this concept to the extreme in an intelligent and captivating cyberpunk movie.
Obviously, this is a low-budget production, but as I often say, ideas often go where money can’t.
Nonetheless, director Alex Rivera creates what both an excellent sci-fi tale and an act of love for Mexico is.
Respect is due, as not many filmmakers know how to combine a good story with an effective social complaint.
The movie describes a country with a double soul, fascinating in its traditions and outstanding natural landscapes.
Likewise, its people essentially live in poverty, exploited on both sides of the US border.
In this case, now there is no need for them to cross illegally, working remotely to the point of exhaustion.
This hypothetical remote virtual reality seems to be the dream of immigrant haters, being able to exploit them without having to be near them.
Aesthetically close to the cables Keanu Reeves used to connect within The Matrix, these grafts, however, are a constant danger to their lives.
But the future workers are too tired to rebel, spending entire days in these factories with almost no life left.
So the class struggle is more challenging than ever without a rebellion spark igniting from below.
Sleep Dealer talks about these topics using the science fiction genre for one of the most unfortunately forgotten movies of 2009.
Will tomorrow’s world have the same problems as today’s?
Aside from the inhumane conditions of the workers, we also get an exciting look at future social networks.
In this sense, the contrast with the mnemonic writing job of the protagonist’s girlfriend is interesting.
Videotaping her life with prosthetics, Leonor Varela‘s character sells them in a virtual store on her blog.
An idea that we can approximate what perhaps Mark Zuckerberg wants to do for the metaverse of his Facebook.
At the same time, this mysterious new world is both exciting and disturbing, raising questions about how it will truly evolve.
For this reason, the main character Luis Fernando Peña, a familiar face of worker, is partially disappointed by the girl.
When he discovers that their love is for sale to the highest bidder, this opens a crack between them that will never heal.
But to help them will come to the soldier played by Jacob Vargas, whose repentance will be a new chance for everyone.
Disillusioned with the army, the man realizes that blindly obeying orders is not enough to silence the conscience.
Alex Rivera signs an almost unique example of Mexican science fiction, poor in means but rich in spirit and ideas.
It’s a pity that the director didn’t find big productions, however, continuing his critique of society with 2019’s The Infiltrators.
Sleep Dealer is a movie that went sadly unnoticed in 2009 but today has a small number of fans on the internet.
If you too would like to join those who love this type of cinema, there is still room, and it’s never too late.