Don’t be fooled by the first thirty-or-so seconds of The Heart Machine’s trailer; this is no cutsey indie romance. Instead, it looks like what we have here is a study in relationships cultivated through social media sites and the paranoia wrought from them – a sort of fictional version of Catfish (or, simply Catfish depending on how you feel about that film’s legitimacy).
Cody and Virginia start talking while he’s in Brooklyn and she’s in Berlin. It’s a romance that could only happen online, and they’re happy together—except they’ve never really met. But Cody’s questions about Virginia’s life in Berlin become an obsession, leading him to doubt that she’s there at all. Combing NYC for clues, an increasingly driven Cody begins overstepping boundaries of privacy in his desperate quest for answers. Tracking two parallel journeys that show how digital mediation complicates modern love,The Heart Machine explores the evolving relationship between physical and emotional intimacy, isolation in the urban hive, and the seduction of hiding behind a screen.
The Heart Machine premiered at South by Southwest 2014, where our own Tim Falkenberg gave it a brief write-up. The film was written and directed by Zachary Wigon (Someone Else’s Heart), and stars Kate Lyn Sheil (Netflix’s House of Cards) and John Gallagher Jr. (TV’s The Newsroom).
Andrew Barker of Variety gave The Heart Machine a cautious but positive review:
Thoroughly modern without being ostentatious about it, and featuring excellent performances from Kate Lyn Sheil and John Gallagher Jr., the film boasts pleasures more formal than narrative, but festival audiences should appreciate them all the same.
The film is set for a wider US release October 24, 2014.