THE ARTIFICE GIRL (2023)
Release Date: 04/27/23 [SXSW '23]
Genre: Mystery. SciFi. Thriller.
Studio: XYZ Films
"A team of special agents discovers a revolutionary new computer program to bait and trap online predators. After teaming up with the program's troubled developer, they soon find that the AI is rapidly advancing beyond its original purpose."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Sure, we can do it. But should we? It’s a question posed, albeit much more seductively, by Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park that becomes all the more relevant with each new iteration of Artificial Intelligence. The Artifice Girl is a quaint, pointed exploration of one way in which AI could be used for good – while posing a divisive ethical dilemma.
The movie clocks in at just over 90 minutes, and it’s a great example of a film spanning several decades not needing to take an entire afternoon to sit through. Split into three parts, the first segment reveals itself as a Law & Order-style interrogation scene which sets the stage quite effectively. Detectives Deena and Amos (Sinda Nichols, David Girard) are questioning Gareth (Franklin Rich) in what appears to be a pedophile sting. We soon learn, though, that there is much more going on here – and that images of a young girl named “Cherry” (Tatum Matthews) are actually a mock pre-teen made up of complex coding. Cherry is being used as bait for online creeps, and since she’s not real… no harm, no foul. Right? Therein lies the dilemma.
Cherry’s wellbeing, consent, and expanding sentience become the crux of the film’s conflict; imagine the “trolley problem” with Cherry being the lone child suffering to improve the fate of countless others. Tatum Matthews is endlessly engaging and succeeds at putting a sympathetic (literal) human face on the AI argument. The Artifice Girl is a solid little film, and its low budget works to its advantage by not muddying up the main message. Come for the well-acted conflict. Stay for the mildly ominous ending.