In Olivia Wilde's devastatingly impactful short film Wake Up, a young woman (played to perfection by Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's Margaret Qualley) wakes up in a Manhattan hospital, suffering from amnesia. She soon escapes out into the city as if seeing the world around her for the very first time; she sings on the subway, dances wildly with street performers, blissfully rides a carousel, and tries desperately to find connection with apathetic strangers who seem to ignore her completely, instead fixated on their electronic devices.
Wilde, who directed the film in partnership with HP, debuted Wake Up during a snowy afternoon at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT, on Jan. 24. At an intimate screening for the 10-minute film, the Booksmart director described the project as "a love letter" to her hometown of New York City and praised Qualley for her ability to communicate so beautifully with her body — Wake Up is a visual feast with music video-style quality, little dialogue, and a superlative soundtrack from Perfume Genius.
"It's completely transformed the way I see the world around me," Wilde told POPSUGAR of working on the film. "I really notice my reliance on technology and how I can become blind to humans. . . I [now] try to ride the subway without having my AirPods in, walk around, and feel what the world actually looks and sounds like."
Wilde's short dares us to ask ourselves who we are without our devices. It begs us to consider whether our constant attachment to screens is destroying our ability to connect with each other. It wants us to decide if working to the point of burnout is actually getting us anywhere. Watch Wake Up now on your nearest screen, then promptly turn it off, go outside, and interact with the humans around you.