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‘Love Me’ review: Dirs. Sam & Andy Zuchero [Sundance]

by Kat Hughes

Sundance is a festival renowned for its quirky independent features, and out of the 2024 crop, Love Me is a contender for the quirkiest. Directed by couple Sam and Andy Zuchero, and starring Kritsen Stewart and Stevn Yeun, Love Me is a romantic drama that takes place across millions of years, and long after mankind have been eviscerated. 

Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun appear in Love Me by Sam Zuchero and Andy Zuchero, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Justine Yeung.

Instead of following the burgeoning romance between a man and a woman, Love Me, chronicles the strange relationship between buoy, Me (Stewart), and satellite, Iam (Yeun). The two connect by accident when Me tunes into Iam’s satellite frequency from Earth. Iam remains in orbit and as the two AI powered machines begin to communicate, Iam introduces Me to the internet. Here, Me learns all about humankind and becomes fascinated by the influencer couple, Deja and Liam (also played by Stewart and Yeun). From there, Me begins to try and replicate their on screen life, casting an unsuspecting Iam into the role of lover. 

The first act of Love Me is centred entirely on the buoy and satellite versions of Me and Iam. They communicate in robot language and it very much channels a Sundance spin on Wall-e and Eve. Their dynamic is sweet, and although it is weird to see a buoy and satellite attempt to court, there is a sweetness to the scenario. Sadly, as Love Me progresses, the pair begin to evolve out of their machine exteriors, creating a metaverse for themselves to reside in. Rather than remain in machine form, they morph into avatars of Deja and Liam. This change-up makes it less strange visually for the audience, but means the film loses some of its shine. 

Ultimately, Love Me is at its best when it most resembles Wall-e; once human avatars make an appearance, it is hard to connect to the characters.

Whilst the mixed media visual format – the film blending animation and photo realism – is pretty to look at, much of the film rests on the performances of Stewart and Yeun. Yeun is his usual charming self, a Glen 2.0 to a lesser extent. Of the two though, it is Stewart that just edges Yeun out to steal the film. Better known for playing moody teenage Bella in the Twilight series, throughout her career Stewart has gravitated to sad characters. As Me, Stewart has the chance to fully embrace the lighter side of life, and so her performance is bright, happy, and whimsical. 

Love Me has a lot to say about both artificial intelligence and social media, the two interacting with intriguing results. It is a dangerous concept that, out of all the billions of videos to pull information from, Me opts for an influencer page. It’s an accurate comment on modern society with many treating the words of their favourite Insta star as gospel. The decision highlights just how easily truth can get lost amongst the gloss. More than that, Love Me explores how the ‘lives’ of these influencers are a complete fabrication. The images and videos chosen by these people have been carefully crafted and constructed to generate the idea of perfection. When Me and Iam don’t immediately achieve the same existence, it throws the machines into turmoil. 

Ultimately, Love Me is at its best when it most resembles Wall-e; once human avatars make an appearance, it is hard to connect to the characters. There are also pretty wild plot swings that do not fully pay off. That being said, Stewart and Yeun are both delightful here and certainly work to make Love Me the oddest romance at Sundance 2024. 

Love Me

Kat Hughes

Love Me

Summary

A romance set over millennia, Love Me is as quirky as can be, and in its bid to be so, overshadows its early charm and tenderness.

3

Love Me was reviewed at Sundance 2024.

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