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Sundance Review / Love Me: Romance at the End of Time

What does it mean to be alive? That’s the central question posed in the sci-fi drama Love Me, which is set thousands of years in the future long after Earth is no longer inhabited. A satellite launched by NASA to scan for lifeforms to welcome them to what used to be the planet locates a smart buoy floating in the water. After initially determining that the buoy is not a lifeform, she begins her own search and discovers that she would very much like to try. What ensues is a dreamlike story of two beings who are definitely not human living other people’s lives and finding each other in the process.

This premise is loaded with humor because of the nature of the clues we leave behind for whatever future entity comes upon the remnants of the earth. The buoy, who names herself Me, creates a social media profile based on a content creator named Deja (Kristen Stewart). She uses that to convince the satellite, who she names Iam, to join her in a simulated animated world where they spend each day going through the same routine that mimics one of Deja and her boyfriend Liam’s(Steve Yeun) videos. I am often asks why they’re doing what they’re doing and who they’re talking to, and Me just says it’s how life works, since she is, he believes, a life form.

This film is most definitely a two-hander since Stewart and Yeun provide the voices for the buoy and satellite before they begin to appear in both live-action and animated form once they’ve become Me and Iam. Both are capable actors with Sundance experience – Yeun was at the festival with Minari in 2020 and Stewart headlines Love Lies Bleeding this year – and have each chosen high-brow projects like Beef and Spencer, respectively, to elevate their reputations from the genre projects, The Walking Dead and Twilight, that originally made them famous.

Love Me
Sam Zuchero and Andy Zuchero, director of Love Me, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Much of their performances feels like they’re simply reading off a script, because they are, as these entities that are most definitely not life forms are saying what they believe normal life forms say all the time. Hearing the subtle and gradual shifts from robotic tones to more sympathetic and emotional as they realize what it means to be human is an engaging process, and watching as both come to doubt aspects of the new lives they are inhabiting evokes contemplation of what it would be like to live long after the end of everyone else, just picking up pieces of what used to be and starting from there.

As with any future-set science fiction that takes place after an extinction event, there is an element of depression that takes hold, since, whatever Me and Iam are able to glean about life and to build together, it’s still not real and there’s no one else to share it with aside from each other. Like A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the film, however melancholy it may be, is most worthwhile because it’s about the joy of learning and becoming. If no one’s left in the future, why shouldn’t a buoy and a satellite be able to find love?

This concept is undeniably interesting and the execution mostly works. It’s most intriguing when it begins and gradually, as the truth comes to light and Me and Iam begin to engage with difficult questions of exactly who they are, it veers into more theoretical territory that isn’t quite as gripping. But Stewart and Yeun both deliver memorable performances in the feature debut of filmmaking team Sam and Andy Zuchero. It asks complicated questions and begins to answer them in the most basic of ways, using the seemingly unsubstantive digital traces of society that might be all that’s left after humanity is gone. It’s entertaining and there’s plenty to think about, even if the end result might leave audiences wanting a bit more. 

Grade: B

Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.

Love Me makes its world premiere in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

Abe Friedtanzer
Abe Friedtanzerhttps://www.cinemadailyus.com
Abe Friedtanzer is a film and TV enthusiast who spent most of the past fifteen years in New York City. He has been the editor of MoviesWithAbe.com and TVwithAbe.com since 2007, and has been predicting the Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, and SAG Awards since he was allowed to stay up late enough to watch them. He has attended numerous film festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, and SXSW, and is a contributing writer for The Film Experience, Awards Radar, and AwardsWatch.

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