The Trouble with “The Trouble with Being Born”


Promotional image for the 2020 film “The Trouble with Being Born”

In 2017, I wrote a short story on my blog called The Girl from Svay Pak. It leveraged what I had read about a Japanese company that manufactured AI-driven sex dolls of little girls. I also added narrative details about the outrageous amount of children being sold for sex in Cambodia. The tale was fiction and in my wildest dreams I never thought someone would make a movie based on this premise (unless it was straight up kiddie porn).

Right on the heels of my commentary on Cuties, I find out that a German film called The Trouble with Being Born was released last February.

The story centers around Georg (played by Dominik Warta) who, as the film begins, is relaxing near his swimming pool while having a casual conversation with his ten-year-old daughter Elli (played by ten-year-old Lena Watson, though that name is a pseudonym). As the story unfolds, we find that Elli is a highly sophisticated android made to look exactly like Georg’s actual daughter who disappeared ten years ago at the age of ten.

However, Georg and Elli don’t exactly have a wholesome parent/child relationship. At night, he has sex with her.

According to Evie Magazine:

In the film, the father sexually abuses the android robot. It would be disturbing no matter what age the android appeared to be, but the fact of the matter is, she is meant to be a 10-year old little girl, and that absolutely sickens me. To make matters even worse, Elli is meant to replace the man’s actual daughter, which leads us to believe that the father was sexually abusing his own daughter years ago. Our horrible suspicion is confirmed when Elli has memories that have been programmed into her by the father from the daughter’s actual memory: Elli’s voice is heard saying “Mum doesn’t need to know everything.” Cue stomachs churning everywhere.

As I mentioned, the character is played by an actual ten-year-old. To protect her, not only was her name changed, but she wore a wig and silicone mask on the set so she wouldn’t be recognized, and also so she would more resemble another actress to appeared later in the movie.


Screen capture of a video where actress Lena Watson is seen having a silicone mask placed over her face

The director Sandra Wollner said that she was initially going to hire a 20-year-old, but once they cut out most of the explicit sex scenes (most of the sex is implied), they went with a child. Apparently the girl’s parents were very “enlightened” and allowed their daughter to act in this “artistic” movie. They were on the set whenever Lena was. The nude scenes were CGI. Lena wore a flesh colored bathing suit which was digitally removed in post production.

Although the film won a Special Jury Award in the Encounters Competition 2020, it was pulled from the line up at the Melbourne International Film Festival after two forensic psychologists warned that the film could “normalize” adult-child sex.

Reviews at Variety and (and most other venues) describe the movie as being highly disturbing. During its first screening in Berlin, numerous members of the audience walked out.

The director said she intended to make a “Pinocchio in reverse,” a child who became a toy, but somehow (gee, I wonder how?), it went horribly wrong.

I’ve never seen this movie and I never will. I don’t know if the movie is currently streaming anywhere but I found the trailer disturbing enough.

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