The trippy “Love Me” will get attention because Kristen Stewart always does. Even her costar Steven Yeun said he took the part because, as he said at the premiere on Friday, “She’s dope.”
But the film, playing in dramatic competition at Sundance, isn’t a love story by any conventional definition. It could explain why the movie got warm, if not overwhelming, applause during its debut screening.
Filmmakers Sam and Andy Zuchero described it in about the simplest terms as you can get considering the film’s logline: “Long after humanity’s extinction, a buoy and a satellite meet online and fall in love.” “It’s not a movie about AI, it’s about trying to unpack humanity [in] 2024,” said Sam Zuchero at the Q&A after the premiere at the Eccles Theatre in Park City.
To pick up where the film begins: We’ve destroyed humanity. We are “a failed dream once called earth,” in the words of the film itself. Earth is a watery orb still spinning in the galaxy with nobody on it. Enter a buoy who connects with a satellite to see if any sign of life ever emerges. (Today probably none of us think that’s impossible.)
Stewart as the buoy named “Me,” spends most of her time as a blinking eye akin to a Wall-E character, or as a CGI version of herself as a motion capture character. She builds a relationship with Yeun, the satellite named “iam” (as in “I am”) who also appears as a CG-generated version of himself and, somehow, over the span of one million years they fall in love. Even as non-human avatars, they question themselves and try to learn about one another to create a facsimile of a relationship.
The movie was “like an acting exercise,” said Stewart. But “Love Me” doesn’t try too hard to make sense. It’s really trying to provoke us to think about where we find ourselves as a species and what would, or will, the aliens who find the dust of our bones say about what we represented.
The film is full of mind-bending images, many of them lyrical and elegiac. They’re all interspersed by images taken from the Internet and YouTube of babies, people kissing, and crying to craft a fast compendium of what makes up earth’s humanity today.
“Love Me” is a sales title at Sundance.
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