Unrealistic Expectations in ‘The Postcard’

The Postcard is a quirky and futuristic take on idealized expectations for summer vacations.

The Postcard takes place in the year 2037, opening on an animated landscape of skyscrapers and moving billboards advertising sales and VR experiences. Anne sits in her apartment with a VR headset on when an envelope covered in postmarks arrives—a digital postcard from her friend. Her friend begins with an image of herself in the Southeast Asian countryside, the images changing to show various beautiful locations: she takes snaps of the locals using a miniature drone, does yoga while taking in beautiful architecture, and rides motorcycles. Her friend then goes on to reveal she met someone very special, Brad, gushing over their romantic adventures. However, Brad is not quite what he seems to be.

The animation in The Postcard is quite beautiful. The color palette is warm and bright, almost dayglo in parts. The coloration enhances the film’s subject matter, evoking the exhilaration and magic of summertime travels–the color selection is akin to a breathtaking sunset. The beauty of each landscape is undeniable. However, because the colors are so intense, they also add an element of surrealism or even an element of the unreal entirely to the scenes, foreshadowing the turn at the end of the film. Though beautiful, the colors also point to the manufactured elements of this summer vacation.

Through this lens, The Postcard contains many satirical elements that point to its true purpose. The friend’s voice is overlaid with the images in her video postcard. She states truisms like, it’s “important to appreciate what we have…being far away helps you come closer to yourself.” The phrases are so canned they become absurd, revealing that the film does not seek to endorse these kinds of expectations for summer vacations but rather to show how patently unrealistic they are. For example, the friend does yoga while staring at an old temple–to the left of it is a modern satellite structure, a juxtaposition that shows the inescapability of technology and connectivity in the modern world. Another example occurs when the friend states “there are people who never stop smiling no matter what”–cutting to a shot of a man working in a rice field–his traditional outfit is emblazoned with the symbols for Nike and Adidas while drones quickly pick up the rice in the background. The man is nothing more than a product placement ad for snap happy tourists, a relic that has been displaced. The Postcard brilliantly satirizes tourists who seek to ‘find themselves’ through the commodification other cultures.

The Postcard also satirizes unrealistic expectations of whirlwind summer romances. The friend states that she visited countless old temples with Brad and learned “the best nights are the ones that end the follow morning.” Again, cliched truisms dominate, pointing out the absurdity of people’s expectations. This is hammered home with the twist at the end of the film–Brad is from a “Rent Your Summer Love” store, an android designed for people to project their unrealistic fantasies on.

By pointing out the unrealistic expectations people have for their vacations–self discovery, true love, etc–The Postcard seeks to free the viewer from them and opens the possibility of actually designing a nice time on one’s own terms.

Samantha Bloom

Samantha is a graduate from Stanford University with a B.A. in English with an emphasis in creative writing. Her previous writing projects have included a satirical Silicon Valley musical, a short film that moves the story of Jekyll and Hyde onto social media, a short film about female embodiment in the modern age, and short stories galore. She’s an obsessive fan girl with an affinity for 80s pop, science fiction, and quirky historical facts. She hopes to be a writer for TV and/or film one day.

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