FILM REVIEW: LIFE LIKE subverts expectations and delivers human drama about the nature of one’s insecurities.


While initially appearing to be a film in the mold of Ex Machina that teases the fine line between humanity and A.I., Life Like instead delivers a look at the void of ennui in modern life.

When I first started watching Life Like, the latest film from director Josh Janowicz (The Chumscrubber), I was largely expecting a film in the mold of Ex Machina. Something where an aloof A.I. self-actualizes in the midst of a crisis of conscience between the couple who acquire it. When the film first starts we meet James (Drew Van Acker) and Sophie (Addison Timlin), a bohemian couple living in the city, happy but struggling to make ends meet. James’ father suddenly passes and their life is uprooted when the two find themselves the beneficiaries of his fortune, an estate whose largesse is much more than either could imagine. They find a mansion stocked with servants and James finds himself running his father’s company. Sophie finds herself unable to live a life waited on hand and foot and fires the staff, entreating James to do their chores himself as she also struggles with the large household. As James confides the issues this situation is causing to an employee, the employee suggests a novel solution. James’ father had looked into a company offering what seems unthinkable; completely life-like androids designed to serve and whose A.I. was designed to thrive as workers who would actualize under the care of their keepers. James is initially drawn to an android called Jessica (Ellen Michelle Monohan), but to put Sophie at ease, they choose a male model called Henry (Steven Strait). As James works, Sophie starts to develop an ease with Henry which slowly takes a dangerous flirtation and seems to set the table for a deadly love triangle between man and machine.

To the film’s credit, the film doesn’t really go there right away. The jealousy each feels towards the other’s growing closeness to Henry is a reflection of their own unhappiness with their current situation. Henry becomes something of a lover/therapist to both, even as James finally makes a play to the A.I.’s creator Julian (James D’Arcy, better known as Jarvis from Agent Carter and Avengers Endgame) to pull the plug on his creation.

At this point, the film takes a deep twist I didn’t really see coming into the idea of human trafficking that grounds the movie and really shakes the idea of this modern sense of ennui many feel and how tenuous a sense of steadiness and belonging can be; whether in a home, a relationship, or a state of being. Life Like is a small movie but it has some big ideas and does some justice to them in terms of plot and acting. While not literally a play on Ex Machina, it explores some of the same issues in a different way and definitely a unique take on what is love and humanity.

- Life Like is available on Blu Ray on May 14, 2019. Order on Blu Ray/DVD and VOD: