The 2024 Sundance Film Festival kicked off on Thursday with the world premiere of “Love Me”, a sci-fi romance starring Kristen Stewart and Steven Yeun. The surreal film explores love and connection in a post-apocalyptic world devoid of humans.
“Love Me” premieres to strong reviews
“Love Me” debuted on the opening night of Sundance to an enthusiastic response from critics. Reviews praised the film’s creative premise, atmospheric visuals, and strong lead performances.
Variety called the film “an unconventional yet undeniably compelling romance,” saying Stewart and Yeun have “crackling on-screen chemistry.” The Hollywood Reporter said that “in a festival filled with quirky high-concept indies, ‘Love Me’ still manages to stand out as something unique.”
In the film, Yeun plays an artificial intelligence named Tom operating a lonely satellite in orbit around Earth. Stewart plays Faye, a buoy floating aimlessly in the ocean. They strike up an unlikely cross-continental robot-human romance spanning thousands of years.
Stewart drew from personal life for role
In interviews at the festival, Stewart said she drew on her own anxieties over climate change and technology while preparing for the role.
“I thought a lot about the fragility of our planet and species when filming,” Stewart said. “The idea that the Earth could become inhospitable to human life one day if we’re not careful – that existential fear definitely informed my performance.”
The film itself shows flashes of events leading up to the human extinction, including climate disasters, technological catastrophes, and breakdowns in diplomacy between nations.
Yeun praises creative premise
Yeun said the creative premise is what drew him to the unconventional script.
“The moment I read it, I was so fascinated by the world the filmmakers created,” Yeun told The Hollywood Reporter. “The idea of a satellite falling in love with a buoy really spoke to me for some reason, and I wanted to help them bring this bizarre romance to life on screen.”
Yeun communicates entirely in beeps and drones in the film, with his dialogue subtitled on screen. The film uses elaborate special effects to visually realize Tom the satellite and Faye the buoy as sentient AI entities.
Stewart and Yeun praised for performances
Reviews out of Sundance singled out both Stewart and Yeun for praise. IndieWire said “Stewart is perfectly cast as the weary, soulful Faye.” Meanwhile, Variety said “Yeun brings warmth and humor to the potentially absurd premise.”
The unconventional nature of the roles proved creatively fulfilling for the two leads. “It was really fun as an actor to play something not human,” Stewart said.
Yeun added that he relished communicating only through the beeps and drones of the satellite: “It let me play a lot with tone, pace, volume. The filmmakers gave me a lot of freedom to develop his vocal personality.”
Film addresses themes of climate anxiety
Beyond the unconventional sci-fi love story, reviews noted that “Love Me” also works as an allegory about environmental destruction and societal collapse.
The Hollywood Reporter said the film “deftly examines climate anxiety and existential dread through a surreal genre lens.”
Meanwhile, IndieWire said “’Love Me’ finds moments of poignancy and emotional resonance amidst its weird, inventive premise about the last vestiges of consciousness on an already-dead Earth.”
Foster reunites with Stewart at festival
Stewart had a high-profile reunion at Sundance with her “Panic Room” co-star Jodie Foster. Foster was on hand to support Stewart at the “Love Me” premiere.
The two posed together in an Instagram photo that delighted fans of the 2002 thriller. Reviews for “Panic Room” famously praised the on-screen bond between Foster’s character and Stewart’s young daughter.
“It was amazing to see her again and have her support,” Stewart said of the reunion.
Foster told reporters on the red carpet she was eager to see Stewart’s unconventional turn in “Love Me”:
“Kristen keeps challenging herself with such interesting roles – I’m always excited to see what weird, wild indie she does next,” Foster said.
What’s next for Sundance and “Love Me”?
The 2024 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 19-29 in Park City, Utah. “Love Me” will have additional screenings in the coming days. Anticipation is already high based on reviews that the film could be one of the breakout hits of this year’s festival.
There will surely be a bidding war among distributors for rights to release the unconventional romance. The level of critical acclaim and buzz around Stewart’s performance so far indicates “Love Me” should at least land a strong theatrical release and awards season consideration.
For Sundance itself, kicking off with such an eccentric genre entry spotlights the festival’s enduring reputation for celebrating independent film and championing creative risk-taking from emerging directing talents. There will be many more world premieres and star-driven indies debuting over the next week and a half.
But the tone has been set with “Love Me” – the 2024 Sundance Film Festival is emphasizing bold, original storytelling. For Kristen Stewart, her post-apocalyptic buoy romance promises to continue being the talk of this year’s festival.
|Total Films Screening
|Opening Night Films
|“Love Me”, 4 documentaries
|Closing Night Films
|8 including actress Patricia Clarkson
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