Cody suspects his girlfriend is lying to him. After all, he’s in Brooklyn, Virginia is an ocean away in Berlin, and they fell in love over the Internet. Who knows if she’s as committed to this relationship as he is — they’ve never even met in person! For all he knows, she could be… secretly living in New York?
In The Heart Machine, which premieres tomorrow at SXSW in Austin, Tex., The Newsroom‘s John Gallagher Jr. plays Cody, who begins to unravel when his suspicions about Virginia become paranoid obsessions. House of Cards‘s Kate Lyn Sheil is his elegant girlfriend, who professes her love for Cody but is more inclined to keep things online-only for the time being. Is Cody being reverse-Catfished, bamboozled by an actual girlfriend who prefers things at a distance? Or is he simply sabotaging the only real relationship he’s ever had?
Writer/director Zachary Wigon wrote the screenplay after his own relationship survived and thrived during a long-distance spell but then fell apart when they were reunited in the same city. “When she came back, I was struck by how incompatible the two of us were, thinking, ‘Who is this person, and what did they do to the person I was dating over Skype?’” Wigon explained. “And that relationship ended, but I started thinking, ‘What if you had a person who preferred a relationship over Skype to a relationship in person?’”