The film signals its interest in human communication and relationships early on (hand-holding etc) and the desire for benign communication (cuddly toys). The imagery is quite simplistic, but its a simple film, and sweet.
Elements of fairy tale and magic realism, but most important is the sense of instant gratification being paramount to the correspondents – that produces an enormous amount of data to cope with (bed strewn with post its) – and the attendant danger of meaninglessness – throw away comments / smileys etc – is this real communication? Ultimately there is a reliance on the bag, which is where the dystopian/utopian opposition is really felt.
The bag itself is benign – its shiny surface, happy colour scheme – but the correspondents’ dependence makes it passively dangerous – they bestow power on it so that when it breaks, unhappiness and disjunction ensue. The ending signals the importance of human communication, breaking out of the box that they have allowed the bag to create for themselves. They were ‘in box’ ie boxed in by their dependence on the magic form of communication. To maintain their humanity they have to meet in person. E.M. Forster has a similar theme going in his short story “The Machine Stops”.
What sort of educational debate does this provoke? I guess the importance of human interaction in the learning process – lots of subtlety is missed through online/telephone communication – also a lot of spontaneity. In the film, it is only when they meet face to face that one suspects they are really going to know each other, and learn from and with each other.