Wifelike (2022) poster

Wifelike (2022)


USA. 2022.


Director/Screenplay – James Bird, Producers – Scott Karol & Steven Paul, Photography – Graham Talbot & Nelson Talbot, Music – Rich Walters, Visual Effects Supervisor – James Tichenor, Special Effects Supervisor – Brant McIlroy, Production Design – Patrick Acuna. Production Company – SP Media/Wonder Street.


Jonathan Rhys Meyers (William Bradwell), Elena Kampouris (Meredith), Doron Bell (Agent Jack Doerksen), Adam Darshi (Louise), Fletcher Donovan (Keene Morrison), Stephen Lobo (Marlon Venner), Sean Yves Lessard (Ido), Alix Villaret (Lydie), Sara Campaio (Wendy), C.J. Perry (Ollie), Caitlyn Stryker (Sergeant Steele)


In the future, the corporation Wifelike specialises in producing android duplicates of one’s dead wife that looks exactly the same but are perfectly servile and loving. William Bradwell returns home with an android copy of his late wife Meredith. She gradually adjusts as random memories of the original Meredith start to fall into place. In his day job, William is a police enforcer who specialises in recapturing rogue Wifelike androids. These are being reprogrammed by the terrorist organisation SCAIR (Sentient Citizens for AI Rights) who are turning them against their owners. William is determined to track down the elusive ringleader of SCAIR who goes to great lengths to hide their identity. Meanwhile, Meredith is contacted by strange individuals who prompt her to challenge her programming.

Since the mid-2010s, there has been quite a body of films dealing with the Artificial Intelligence revolution and Androids or Robots. These include the likes of Her (2013), The Machine (2013), Automata (2014), Chappie (2015), , Ex Machina (2015), Uncanny/Android (2015), Morgan (2016), tv’s Westworld (2016-22), A.I. Rising (2018), Tau (2018), Zoe (2018), Archive (2020), After Yang (2021), Finch (2021), Outside the Wire (2021) and M3gan (2022), among others.

Wifelike is really a version of The Stepford Wives (1975) updated to the modern era of the debate about artificial intelligence and robotics. Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ android enforcer/tracker is a clear copy of Harrison Ford in Blade Runner (1982). Although you keep thinking that his entire job, not to mention the plot of the film, would be redundant if Wifelike simply installed tracking chips inside their androids, not to mention circuits that simply shut the unit down if the android goes AWOL. (This is something that most present-day car sales places install in case you abscond without making payments).

Jonathan Rhys Meyers and android wife Elena Kampouris in Wifelike (2022)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers and android wife Elena Kampouris

Wifelike seems like it is travelling down standard paths with Jonathan Rhys Meyers fighting the rebel faction at the same time as android wife Elena Kampouris developing increasing self-awareness – until the film pulls an undeniably interesting mid-film twist on us. [PLOT SPOILERS]. It is one where everything we assume about the set-up is suddenly turned on its head – the rebels are not the dangerous terrorists that we assumed and Jonathan Rhys Meyers suddenly goes from the hero to the bad guy and Elena is revealed as an exploited innocent.

As the film starts, you keep wondering why the company is not offering android replacements to wives for their husbands or for that matter android spouses for gay couples. It soon becomes apparent there is a reason for this. What we end up is a film that soon after its twist abandons all interest in the A.I. debate and wades in boots and all into the 2020s gender war. It’s a Stepford Wives given a modern The Future is Woman rewrite where the android wives rise up to protest their exploited purpose and burn down the patriarchy. The film goes from a snappy reversal to an end that is all but a placard-waving political statement.

Wifelike was the fifth film for director/writer James Bird. Bird had previously made the non-genre likes of Eat Spirit Eat (2013) and Honeyglue (2015), the fantasy film We Are Boats (2018) and the SF film The Circuit (2019).

Trailer here

Actors: , , , , , , , , , ,
Themes: , , , , , ,