The Artifice Girl- SXSW review

March 13, 20235 min

                   The current advancements in the field of A.I. have started to pose some questions on its use.  Those questions have mostly come from the artistic side, as A.I. creates stories and paintings while leaving out the human factor in it all. Most will say they can tell the difference, that there is something lacking, but what if you couldn’t tell and what would that all mean?

 Somewhere in a room that seems far from the world we meet Deena (Sinda Nichols) as she has Siri compose a message and set a reminder. She seems to be waiting for someone and we meet that someone when Amos (David Girard) brings in a young man with red hair. It seems these two are part of an agency and they have questions for Gareth (Franklin Ritch), that he is reluctant to answer. They know all the basic stuff, but what they really want to know is his user name that he uses on-line. After some convincing he tells them and while at first it would appear he might be a little sketchy, that reveal changes the tone of it all. It seems Gareth has been helping this agency catch child predators, but it is not what he is doing, they want to know how he is doing it. Gareth though is not eager to tell, but after some reinsurances he tells them how he is able to do it. Gareth has created an A.I. that is beyond anything out there. It poses as a pre-teen girl names Cherry (Tatum Matthews), who is able to react in real time, hence never appearing to be fake. At first Gareth does not want to, but Cherry feels differently and thus creates a team that will be a child predators worst nightmare.

Written and directed by Franklin Ritch, who pulls triple duty by also being one of the leads as he breaks the story down in three chapters. As the chapters movie the story though time, we see the advancement of the operation as well as Cherry herself. Ritch doesn’t use big sets, instead each chapter almost entirely takes place in single-room, letting the dialogue do all the heavy lifting. This gives The Artifice Girl a very theater feel to it, but Ritch breaks that up by employing a roaming camera and swift cuts. With his choice in making it dialogue heavy, it puts a lot of pressure on the performances, all who meet that challenge.

 If you have come for an action-packed thriller, you are going to want to stay because of the clever writing.  And the whole concept the film presents does a reasonable job contending with contemporary dilemmas in A.I. The performances are all good with Matthews really standing out, as she handles her role perfectly. The Artifice Girl digs hard into our humanity, while attempting to deal with the difficulties it finds along the way. For me this is when Sci-Fi is its best, as it delivers something engrossing and weighty about the world around us.

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