I’ve mentioned here before that I watch a lot of movies just because of certain actors. In some cases, this is a bad life decision, as some of my favorite actors have done pretty mediocre movies in their pasts. In other cases, though, I’m left pleasantly surprised by what I’ve seen and my admiration for the actor only grows. I’m one big fangirl, if we’re being honest. The reason I decided to watch “The Heart Machine” was because the protagonist is played by John Gallagher Jr., who I’ve recently become obsessed with again (the last time was because of the musical “Spring Awakening”). I thought it was a pretty good movie even with its shortcomings, and I’m going to share my quick thoughts about it with you.
“The Heart Machine” follows the story of Cody (John Gallagher Jr.) and Virginia (Kate Lyn Sheil). He lives in New York and she lives in Berlin, and they are in a seemingly healthy long-distance relationship though they’ve never met before. We quickly learn that Cody suspects Virginia is lying and is actually living in New York as well, which leads him to an obsessive search for her whereabouts.
The movie depicts modern, internet-born relationships in a very interesting way, and explores how the excess of possibilities and exposition can be fatal to any relationship. It’s also a gloomier picture of how those intimate virtual relationships can be sustained in the real world. I found both protagonists very convincing in their parts, showing confidence during the Skype calls, but vulnerability when left to their own devices. Cody was especially good, and some of his scenes had me crazily cringing due to secondhand embarrassment. It’s also interesting how having an actual conversation with his girlfriend about what’s bothering him is never an option, even though they talk to each other about everything else, and share almost all of the intimacies of a physical relationship.
The use of technology in the movie was also done in a very organic way. The Skype calls or texts don’t seem forced or out of place like they do in so many movies, but by being such an intricate part of the narrative, their appearances fit really well and add to the story.
The movie calls itself a thriller, but you shouldn’t expect any unforeseen twists. The plot reveals itself almost entirely right in the beginning of the movie, and it’s not hard to guess by the tone of it how things are going to turn out. Still, there is an underlying tension that only grows throughout Cody and Virginia’s virtual interactions. “The Heart Machine” was not, by any means, a masterpiece, but it provided some food for thought regarding the way we relate to one another. The acting was really good, and managed to fill in some of the gaps left by the script. I do recommend giving it a try if you’re in the mood for a dramatic, thriller-y movie that deals with modern issues, even though it doesn’t go very deeply into them.
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