Deena (Sinda Nichols) and Amos (David Girard) are two special agents tasked with catching online predators in The Artifice Girl. Each of them has personal reasons driving their passion. By combing through the internet, they find a user that seems to consistently be present when predators are getting caught. Agents Deena and Amos lure Gareth (Franklin Ritch), the man behind the profile, to their office. Eventually the truth comes out – Gareth has created a revolutionary AI that is tasked with tracking down online predators. The AI is named Cherry (Tatum Matthews) and is modeled after a young girl.
Initially worried that Gareth was using Cherry as bait, Deena and Amos are shocked to learn that Cherry is not real. Gareth has created one of the world’s most complex AIs that evolves. Seeing how spectacular Cherry is and the success Gareth has already had, Deena and Amos join forces with him. Fifteen years later and Cherry has continued that exponential evolution. Yet Cherry may have reached its full potential in its current state. However, transferring that AI into a “body” opens up a whole new range of possibilities…and possibly Pandora’s box.
Franklin Ritch both wrote and directed The Artifice Girl. It is only his second feature length film following 2019’s Teardrop Goodbye with Mandatory Directorial Commentary by Remy Von Trout. Both of these projects saw Ritch take on all three roles of staring, writing, and directing. Matthews and Girard also had roles in Teardrop Goodbye alongside Ritch. Matthews would go on to appear in Wraith, a film short that Ritch also acted in. With such a small cast, Ritch’s familiarity with Matthews and Girard was valuable to the film. Ritch masterfully maximizes his resources to create a succinct and impactful film.
The Artifice Girl takes place over three periods of time. Essentially almost the entire film is three different conversations occurring over 50 years. The overwhelming majority of the film’s sets are simply different rooms. Ritch, Matthews, Girard, and Nichols take up pretty much the entirety of the screentime. Luckily Ritch’s script is able to carry the weight of the film. The dialogue is smart and interesting and brings up thoughtful and topical questions about artificial intelligence. The four main actors do their part with strong performances. The runtime is relatively short, and the film doesn’t drag at all. The Artifice Girl is a well-made sci-fi drama that leaves you thinking well after the credits roll.