Black Mirror review this nightmare sterile world is only five minutes away

Charlie Brookers future shocker, where people are constantly projecting a sunny image of themselves and rating each other out of five, feels terrifyingly close

Imagine a time where zombie-like people look only into their smart phones. They swipe and they rate not just cabs and restaurants but people, too. They take photos of themselves being happy and looking good; also photos of things funny things, sunny things, or food they are eating, cool food. Then they post the pictures and wait, for feedback, for approval. They are posting their lives not so much their real lives but the lives they want other people to see and think they are living. Mostly they worry, about how they are seen, about their status

Imagine? Look about you: that time is here, even if some of the technology in Black Mirror: Nosedive (Netflix) isnt quite yet. Lacie Pound (brilliantly played by Bryce Dallas Howard), along with everyone else, wears contact lenses that feed her information about people and about their ratings. Not here yet, but not a million miles on from Google Glass. Likewise the hologram she meets, of herself complete with hairstyle upgrade and sexy hunk in the kitchen of a new apartment at the Pelican Cove Lifestyle Community, as an extra incentive to inspire, aspire to, sign up. I was surprised the cars werent self-driving, but that was probably more about logistics and cost.

Otherwise, its basically Instagram plus Facebook plus Twitter plus Snapchat plus FaceTime plus Uber plus all the rest. And look, there is an actual app (not available in the UK, sadly) Peeple, where your character is your currency that lets you review other people as if they were a B&B. In Africa your social media reputation can get you a bank loan. Far from far-fetched, this shit is real, and if its not here now, its only five minutes away. Thats the scary thing and the power about this and every episode of Charlie Brookers Black Mirror.

A saccharine pastel nightmare Bryce Dallas Howard as Lacie in Nosedive. Photograph: Netflix

Its not just about the technology, more about people. Again Brooker has taken the above and turned it into a moving human story, about Lacies ultimately doomed attempt to better herself as in improve her personal rating from 4.2 out of 5 by being maid of honour at her (not really) best friends wedding.

Nosedive feels bigger and more cinematic (it is directed by film director Joe Wright) than previous Black Mirror episodes. It looks and sounds beautiful: the sterile saccharine pastel nightmare of home and office; the bleak freeway-scape from above at night; Naomis private island wedding at the end, all blondes and jocks and perfect teeth; Max Richters thoughtful score, integral rather than incidental.

Fabulous performances too, not just from BDH, but also from Alice Eve as Naomi, oozing plastic fakery; and from James Norton as Lacies brother, who might only be a 3.7 but (because) hes somehow managed to keep a foot on the ground, in whats important, in reality.

You have too, you say? Youre a long way from all this? So youve never worried how many Twitter or Instagram followers youve got? Youve never posted something, then waited hopefully for positive feedback a retweet perhaps from someone with a higher status (more followers) than you? Youve never felt anxious about any of this stuff, or what people think of you? Well, thats OK. This isnt about you then.

Series three of Black Mirror is available on Netflix now.

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