George Saunders’ original story, which was published in The New Yorker, is a bizarre one to put it lightly. It follows a middle-aged narrator as he attempts to woo his daughter with a series of lavish gifts. He feels as if he is unable to compare to the wealthier fathers around him and he wants to be seen as just as rich as them, even if that means spending thousands of dollars. When he purchases a pair of garden ornaments called Semplica Girls, he thinks he and his daughter have won the gift-giving jackpot.
However, the Semplica Girls aren’t as hollow or lifeless as many might expect them to be. In fact, they’re young girls who have either sold themselves to or were trafficked into becoming living statues for rich, first-world households. Horrifying, right? The original story examines privilege, capitalism, and those who benefit from them exploiting developing nations. There’s no doubt, then, that Ayoade’s adaptation will follow through on these poignant themes.