In David Asavanond’s romantic sci-fi, your apartment can fall in love with you, and then stop you from leaving.
“Buildings must stick together, Dob. No matter what.”
If you thought living in a world where an Alexa device may be constantly listening to you is spooky and intrusive, then let me introduce to you the nightmarish world that is David Asavanond’s futuristic Bangkok. It is a hellscape where buildings have been equipped with faces and, for whatever reason, giant robotic arms, and have an I, Robot level of sentience. They watch your every step through ever-present cameras, talk to you about your issues and love to gossip with other buildings. And it is where this story takes place.
Lana (Pimchanok Luevisadpaibul) is one of the many inhabitants of this city and both her apartment and office buildings are equipped with AI. Her apartment is very involved in her dating life, but on the flip side her office – named Dob – has begun to fall in love with her. When Lana tells Dob about a disastrous date with unbelievable jerk Bob (Mario Maurer), who happens to be Dob’s engineer, Dob forces his AI into Bob’s body during a check-up session, and begins a romantic with Lana.
It’s worth noting at this point that this isn’t some cyberpunk horror. The lack of privacy, the robots forcing themselves into our flesh sacks and controlling our bodies, the fact that the buildings watch us sleep and then tell other buildings about it, all of this is supposed to be cute in the world of AI Love You. In many pieces of dystopian fiction, the characters are aware that their dream future has turned sour, and look for ways to change that. In AI Love You, the characters embrace this, fully blind to the horrorshow they live in.
AI Love You is a strange little film, carried almost entirely by the acting chops and chemistry of its two leads. Despite how much of an ass Bob is, Mario Maurer plays him well and his turn as Dob is charming, when it isn’t slipping into the typical fish out of water cliches. The writing that Luevisadpaibul and Maurer have to endure is pretty bad, filled with baffling character choices and tired jokes, but they try to make it work. To AI Love You’s credit, they’re able to find hilarious new life in the “two places at once” gag, where Dob has to switch between being Bob and being the building, with the other completely shutting down when he inhabits one.
Despite the strange premise, the world itself looks amazing: the robot buildings are intimidating and silly, but are quite neat to see regardless, and every scene is drenched in neon rainbows and bright, vibrant set design. All of this is wrapped up in a story that has good intentions, but just sort of feels off throughout. Questions linger long after any feel good moments: where did the AI come from? Who is collecting all the footage of people sleeping, and making use of their monthly neurological scans? Why are the people chasing down rogue, body-stealing AIs considered the bad guys?
Is AI Love You any good? Not particularly. Just about everything in the film almost works, from the worldbuilding to the characters to the drama and the jokes, everything feels like the filmmakers were maybe one pitch session away from nailing them all, but jumped the gun a touch early. But the fact that it isn’t great by any definition doesn’t mean that it isn’t entertaining. As the story progresses, the world’s reality becomes heightened to a point where you can’t not be entertained when the tough-as-nails renegade programmer slices through shop floor robots with a lightsaber.
Verdict: in a lot of ways, AI Love You feels like a film an AI would have written: trying to endear themselves to us through strange, inhuman means that are more terrifying than they are cute.
Overall entertainment: 6/10, mostly for some unintentional laughs
Club scenes: 3
Villains: Fully justified. That body isn’t yours Dob.
Love Guru: This must be one Mike Myers’ lesser known spin-offs
AI Love You (2022)
Also known as: Laser Candy, AI Heart Overload, เอไอหัวใจโอเวอร์โหลด
Director: David Asavanond, Stephan Zlotescu
Writers: Philip Gelatt, Ratapong Pinyosophon, Stephan Zlotescu
Pimchanok Luevisadpaibul – Lana
Mario Maurer – Bobby
David Asavanond – The Hawk
Sahajak Boonthanakit – Mr. Wilson
Michael S. New – Alan