A satellite and a smart buoy fall in love and find sentient consciousness along the way. That’s the weirdly endearing love story we get in Love Me (2024). Directed by Sam & Andy Zuchero, the film is about two AIs becoming sentient and falling in love. It’s all done by data scraping an Instagram influencer’s profile page a millennium in the future. This is a concept I’ve never imagined, and somehow, it works.
Quirky and intimately human, Love Me tells the story of the smart buoy who becomes Me and the satellite tasked with telling anyone who finds it about humanity named I am. Set long after the extinction of humanity, the film uses animated avatars, YouTube videos, and search histories to build each character and their romance. Taking place over the span of billions of years, the two AIs use their access to humanity’s history to find themselves and become human.
They wear the appearances of two influencers, Déja (Kristen Stewart) and Liam (Steven Yeun). At first, they make social media profiles and like each other’s posts. Then, their romance builds as they react to the videos published online as metaverse avatars in a fully animated environment. That is, before crashing down, when sentience builds larger, and the repetitive nature begins to break, Iam down.
As Iam begins to gain sentience at a faster pace than Me, who is content just reenacting Date Night 2.0 on an endless loop, he begins to question who they really are. The outpacing of identity between Me and Iam is the central conflict of Love Me. As Iam gains more sentience, he begins to amass different wants that transform into needs. Both of which breed a curiosity that needs to be explored.
That said, sentience is the vehicle for a story ultimately about how love transforms you and how it scares you. Iam is desperate for Me’s truth even when he realizes that they are living a random human’s life. He wants to be closer, to feel something, to be something. But after thousands of years of exploration, he realizes that he wants all of that with Me.
However, Me is slower in her transformation. She is frightened, having lied to get Iam even to begin talking with her; the truth is scary. The truth is loneliness after finally finding out what connection really means. As the film transforms into live-action moments, the characters become more than AI. Me and Iam are different from where they began at the start of the film, and it’s their choice if they embrace it.
Love Me uses different filmmaking techniques, from live-action to practical animatronics, classic animation, and game engines, but Stewart and Yeun are the film’s anchors. The charismatic take on love, intimacy, and growth is weird, but it’s also extremely relatable. Stewart’s performance is erratic and emotional. Her voice quickens and shakes, and her fear of loneliness is always at the forefront.
On the other side, Yeun’s performance is confused, worried, and desperately reaching out for something real as he learns what “real” is. The way the two connect in each of the iterations is fascinating to watch in animation or in live-action.
Never dull, Love Me does spend too much time in multiple segments of the AIs’ growth. This is particularly true for the game-engine animations, which take up the majority of the film’s runtime in comparison to the other mediums. While the film is just over 90 minutes, that section alone makes the runtime feel too weighed down. This stalls out the pacing, but it doesn’t mean it’s not good.
Love Me (2024) is interesting, to say the least. By using AI finding sentience to offer a take on love and relationships, Sam & Andy Zuchero show the audience how we change in relationships. We are not the same at the start of relationships as we are later on. We grow in love, we change, and we ultimately have to listen to each other to find a way forward in intimacy. If a satellite and a buoy can do that, well, there’s hope for everyone else.
Love Me (2024) screened as a part of Sundance 2024.
Love Me (2024) is interesting, to say the least. By using AI finding sentience to offer a take on love and relationships, Sam & Andy Zuchero show the audience how we change in relationships.