Hot Docs 2012: The Mechanical Bride

There's more to sex dolls than just sex. Well, I mean, sex is still a pretty big part of it. And the technological advances being made are, um, downright eerie. These aren't your grandfather's sex dolls. Their fake breasts are made from the same stuff we make real fake breasts from. They're starting to move, to thrust their hips, to move their heads back and forth in order to provide automated blow jobs. Some have begun to moan and whisper and groan in response. And with the fields of robotics and synthetics and artificial intelligence making advances all the time, it looks like sex dolls will be getting even more realistic in the near future.

But the most interesting thing about The Mechanical Bride, the new sex doll documentary from director Allison de Fren, is all the ways these human-sized sex toys are about more than just orgasms. At times, as you might expect, they're about dark, misogynist fantasies. More than once someone interviewed in the film mentions the appeal of having complete control over a woman who they actually, literally own. Some of the dolls are disturbingly child-like. One is sent in repeatedly for repair, beaten and half torn apart. Those images are just plain chilling. But for most of the owners who appear in The Mechanical Bride, the dolls are a source of companionship. One old man says he wanted something with a human form in the house after his wife died. One young goth swears he's in love with his doll, takes her out to dinner, does her make-up, buys her her favourite things. The relationships those owners have with their dolls might not quite be sweet, but they almost kind of sort of are in an odd way. And at worst they're seemingly harmless and a little bit sad — an understandable, if totally bizarre, way of dealing with those existential angsts Sartre was always going on about: death and other people. Well, those, of course, and sex.

- Adam Bunch

The Mechanical Bride is screening again on Sunday May 6 at 9pm at the Bloor Cinema. Tickets 'n' stuff here.

Find all of our coverage of Hot Docs 2012 here. 

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at


Damian Bathory said...

That's one way to use breast implants sydney I guess. Still, I think there's just something so wrong about doing anything with a life-sized doll in skimpy outfits.

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