It's no surprise that the digital age is complicating modern love.
With the millennials communicating in the form of emoticons and snap chat photos, everyone is susceptible to wearing different masks, and having those fronts unraveled. "The Heart Machine" plays with this tradition, for a thrilling look at how one man's pursuit of the truth is his own psychological undoing.
In "The Heart Machine," Broadway actor turned movie and TV star John Gallagher Jr. plays Cody, a man who's in love with a woman named Virginia, who he's only had correspondences with on Skype.
Aside from their physical disconnect, they resemble a normal long-distance couple, that is until one red flag rises in Cody's mind that Virginia isn't who she appears to be.
amNewYork spoke with Gallagher about the movie, opening on Friday.
What was your first impression of the script?
I thought it was really current. It speaks volumes to the way we communicate with each other now. ... It took turns that I didn't see coming. I didn't know how unhinged my character was going to become throughout this process of becoming paranoid and distrustful of his online girlfriend.
It's odd how we're mapping our lives on social media and branding ourselves to fit a certain box, and this speaks to that.
Social media is such a tool to frame yourself as how you want to be seen [but] you can only do that for so long. If you want to let someone in, you really have to let them in to the whole thing, and that's what the film gets into between those two things.
Do you think older generations will take away from the film as well?
We've done some screenings where the audience hasn't been comprised of Generation Y. Despite the fact that it's based around the sign of the times, it's basically fundamental human stuff -- like being insecure, or being uncomfortable in your own skin, being afraid of intimacy -- and those are the things that, whether or not you came up in the age of computers, everybody can kind of see a little bit of themselves in.
For the most part you're acting against a Skype screen. Did you have any reservations?
I thought it was really cool from the get-go. I really hoped that we were able to film these Skype scenes, to get on the Internet and Skype with each other from different locations. Being able to react to each other and be scene partners was really important to this film. I had this idea in my head that I would go method and not meet her, that I would film all the scenes on the computer. That was foolish because what we ended up doing was a week of rehearsals with each other face-to-face, so by the time we got to set we had already developed a rapport.