As far as festival blurbs go, the plot description for filmmaking team Sam and Andy Zuchero’s Love Me is one of the more unique entries, causing many Sundance attendees to question what it could possibly mean.
“Long after humanity’s extinction, a buoy and a satellite meet online and fall in love,” reads the official Sundance listing that immediately brings to mind a whole host of questions. So The Hollywood Reporter went as close to the source as possible Thursday night by asking Kristen Stewart, who stars opposite Steven Yeun in the Zuchero’s experimental indie, how she describes it and what it all means.
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“The movie jumps the throat of identity. It really jumps down the throat of trying to affix any feeling we have to a word or identifier, a flag, a stake. Every five minutes we can just flip flop, and the overriding echo [is] if we were to just sort of inhale the Internet, if we were to all just die right now and our footprint was this sort of echo of disparity, I would be proud of that,” said the actress while on the red carpet at the DeJoria Center where she received a Visionary Award from the Sundance Institute. “Like, love me. We just want to be like, ‘Can you see me? What is me? Am I anything? Am I distinct? I don’t know. Am I worth loving? I don’t know.’ It’s a movie about identity and having that change every 30 seconds, every split second, just the words affixed to it, the sort of feelings and the images affixed to identity. They’re ever changing.”
Get it? If not, no worries. Insiders pre-festival noted that it’s the kind of film that demands to be seen to be understood. Sundance attendees will get the opportunity starting Friday when the film has its world premiere where Stewart will join Yeun and the filmmakers. It’s a welcome experience for Stewart who, prior to this year, has seen 10 projects screen in Park City, and she’s back with another two for the 40th edition. In addition to Love Me, she also stars in Rose Glass’ Love Lies Bleeding.
“It’s so cool to be here right now, just to be in the world right now,” Stewart told THR when asked about the range of projects she’s taking on, including the queer Love Lies Bleeding. “I think that there are shapes and languages and colors that we don’t look at yet. We’ve just been making the same movie over and over again and trying to twist into pretzels to find ourselves within those movies. And it’s not impossible. The reason we want to make movies is because we love them, but they’re not for all of us yet, and they’re starting to inch toward being for all of us because all of us are making them. Or at least maybe that’s what we’re saying we’re doing. Let’s see if we really do it.”
She’s trying. Stewart recently told Variety that she won’t act in another project until she can get her feature directorial debut, The Chronology of Water, off the ground and into production. “That was an extreme thing to say,” Stewart noted. “But I really won’t. I have to do it, I think Sundance is definitely a place to understand that the only reason that you should make something is because you need to do it. There’s this sort of essential, vital thing about making marginalized art and being on the sidelines and then coming to a place where you’re like, dude, we do hear you. If I keep working for other people, even if I’m inspired and totally in love with those stories, what am I doing? Of course I want to make my movie. Yeah, that’s all I want to do.”
But for now, all she wants to do is bask in the glow of Sundance.
“My biggest takeaway is that whenever I hear that one of movies that I’ve been a part of gets accepted here, I am overjoyed. There are so many paths to audiences. There are so many paths to fellow humans. To get through to people here is just really visceral and tactile and real and personal. The first time I came here I was like 14 and I’ve been back a bunch of times and it’s never not been that way.”
She continued: “Sundance is like, it’s the cool one. I wish I had a better word for that, but I always wanted to be in the land of [Evan Rachel Wood], Jena Malone and Natalie Portman. I was always like, if I could get to go hang out there, I would be so happy. And I’ve gotten to do it so much. I fucking love this place.”
See her full red carpet interview below.
Kristen Stewart, Visionary Award winner at #Sundance opening night gala, talks about what the festival means to her, her new film 'Love Me,' and how her identity has shaped what she wants to do next (and whether she really plans to not take any acting roles until she gets her… pic.twitter.com/7C3ZdY1yoJ
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) January 19, 2024
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