Netflix’s most underrated sci-fi movie is a gender-swapped Her
This 2022 movie puts the “AI” in “Thai cinema.”
Countless sci-fi stories are love stories between humans and technology. This romance between man and machine could be symbolic, like Black Mirror or Bigbug, or literal, like Spike Jonze’s Oscar-winning saga Her. But what if you reversed that formula? Instead of a human falling in love with technology, why not show a machine falling in love with a woman — and doing whatever it can to woo her?
AI Love You is a 2022 Thai sci-fi romantic comedy directed by David Asavanond and Stephan Zlotescu. While it was produced recently, its worldbuilding and entire point of view are delightfully retro. The film is set in a world where “smart buildings” are the norm. In this case, that doesn’t simply mean lights you can turn on with your phone, but artificial intelligence is embedded into buildings to help those who live inside. The buildings even have little eyes you can see from the outside.
The story follows Lana, an unlucky-in-love employee at an advertising firm who is greeted daily by her corporate building’s AI, Dob. At night, she goes on terrible blind dates set up by her best friend, including one with a tech worker named Bob who decides (on the bad advice of a pickup artist) to constantly insult her and show off his pink nipples (no, I don’t get it either, but I laughed).
Looking for a way to woo his love, Dob decides to possess Bob during a normal tuneup of the AI technology. By day, he keeps the elevators running at work, and on nights and weekends, he slowly wins over Lana by using his historical knowledge of her likes and dislikes.
There are some very broad comedy moments in AI Love You. For example, Dob doesn’t know how to exist in a human body, so he interrupts a date by yelling, “I must defecate!” He runs off clutching his rear end, which somehow Lana finds endearing. Just be warned, this is definitely a movie you’ll want to watch with subtitles. The English dubs replace the line “You need to go find someone to have fun with” with something a lot less safe for work.
While the fish-out-of-water romance is more indicative of a goofy movie like Big, there are some truly innovative sci-fi moments. When a rogue AI bounty hunter (who is the pickup artist from before) hunts down Dob, it’s up to Lana and her home’s AI to save him, resulting in a happily ever after that’s unlike anything I’ve seen in a sci-fi movie so far.
Yes, technically AI Love You is a love story between a woman and a building, but it’s hard not to root for them as they fall for each other. Dob’s final lines — which we won’t spoil here — say it all, asking bigger questions about the nature of love vs. the artificiality of technology in a deeply surprising way.
AI Love You is now streaming on Netflix.