‘Wifelike’ Review: A Cool Techno-Thriller That Teach Us We Are All Looking for Love

Wifelike

Science fiction, more than any other genre, allows storytellers to go into the future and speculate about what is going to happen to us, human beings, both as a society and as individuals. Technology has been growing rapidly in the last two decades, and it is really difficult to go beyond what technology allows us to do today. What seemed like a fantasy just a few years ago ends up being a reality now, both on the good and bad sides of the argument. It is hard to keep up.

Artificial intelligence is still one of those far frontiers. It seems inevitable that we will reach the singularity sooner rather than later. Digital assistants, such as Alexa, have become a daily part of our lives, and the way these programs learn to reach and satisfy our needs seems to be exponentially faster each day. Before we reach that fateful day, storytellers keep pushing the idea of A.I. and how it will change us. Some arguments say the change will be a good thing, while others are not so optimistic.

Wifelike is a new science fiction film that deals exactly with this idea. The film pulls from many sources, from a classic novel like “The Stepford Wives” to the latest Quantic Dream video game “Detroit: Become Human” as well as many other shows and films. The result is a film that tries to do a lot within the limits of its budget. Yet, sometimes the production design fails to realize the future the story is trying to immerse us in. The story itself and the ideas are compelling enough to maintain the suspense going from start to finish.

Wifelike

Wifelike is a film written and directed by James Bird, and tells the story of William, an officer working for the Wifelike company. William recovers missing Wifelike products, which in this case are A.I.constructs in the bodies of very attractive males and females. These A.I. beings are used mostly for pleasure by those who buy them. When Williams receives his own A.I. companion, things start going awry as a mysterious organization seems to be interested in his particular companion.

The film is filled with ideas coming from all over the place. Like we said before, The Stepford Wives seems to be a strong reference here. The concept of women being made into robots just to be enslaved by sleazy men is present throughout the movie. The film also takes a lot from the magnum opus of this type of film, Blade Runner. William, the main character, is basically a blade runner as he runs around catching companions who have gone wrong. It makes for some of the best scenes in the movie.

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At times, it seems like Bird took some plot points from Blade Runner itself and then created what-if moments around them. It all makes for an interesting exploration of how replicants or in this case, companions, would change our way of life. There is some great world-building being done here, and the exposition used to give this information to the audience is often done in an unobtrusive way. There are a couple of scenes that are clearly only meant for the audience as characters speak about things they already know, but these are infrequent.

The world-building is great, and the ideas are intriguing. However, if there is one aspect of the film that cannot be compared to the films from which it was inspired, it is the aesthetic. Wifelike isn’t a big budget production, and while the movie is shot in a very competent way, the production design seems to suffer from a lack of resources. The movie tries to sell this futuristic world, but it doesn’t have the money to fully realize it on screen.

Wifelike

Maybe, it would have been better to do with the “5 minutes into the future” aesthetic in the vein of, for example, “Looper” a film that tells us that in the future things are not so different designwise. Some of the gadgets Wifelike uses during certain scenes end up taking us out of the film instead of putting us in there. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but it makes you wonder what Bird and his team could have done if they had a bit more money to create their world.

At the core of the film there is a mystery plot that, while functional, feels like it drags a bit, and some revelations towards the end feel more like a post-credit scene than an actual ending. The implications are interesting, and it would make a good sequel, but at the same time, they are not as strong to make you feel completely satisfied when the credits start rolling.

Wifelike might not be a visual treat, but it makes up for it by using familiar ideas in a new fashion, having great performances from its actors, and also being quite entertaining. Let’s hope Bird can follow up this story and take it to its ultimate consequences if that is what he wants to do. Let’s hope he can get a bit more money to fully create a believable vision of the future on-screen.

SCORE: 7/10

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.