It was over three years ago that I first noticed the acting talents of Elena Kampouris, thanks to Summer Night and Before I Fall. When interview opportunities surfaced for her new film Wifelike, I jumped at the chance. Both the movie and the interviewee were highlights of this week. Check out the interview below as Kampouris reflects on the Wifelike’s subversive dynamics and why her My Big Fat Greek Wedding experience has left an indelible impact.
A brief look at the Wifelike poster and you might think you are in for a titilating and campy sci-fi experience. Though there is nothing wrong with cinematic guilty pleasures, Wifelike pulls a refreshing bait and switch, proving their is much more substance under that eye catching veneer.
The narrative centers on an AI companion (Elena Kampouris) who is a replicant of a human being named Meredith (also played by Kampouris). She is the obedient and dutiful lover of William (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a detective who tracks down criminals who traffic these companions in the black market.
Audio version of the Elena Kampouris interview is up on CinemAddicts:
William was previously involved with Meredith, and he is hoping his companion can be an exact replicant of his soulmate. Directed and penned by James Bird, Wifelike has the makings of a sexy, sci-fi and visceral driven experience, but his focus ultimately lies in the subjugation and objectification of women.
Check out my review of Wifelike on the latest episode of Find Your Film:
I was pleasantly shocked at the tonal shift; basically I was ready for cotton candy and popcorn, but a more satisfying meal was served.
To delve into Wifelike’s themes would venture into spoiler territory. That said, the film is an indictment on how a patriarchal system can cripple society. The articial companions in Wifelike, though programed to service their owners, are slaves to a world where freedom only exists in their dreams.
Armed with an indie budget, Bird successfully crafts a Philip K. Dick inspired universe that is propelled by Kampouris “lifelike” performance of the AI companion.
“With our creative team – James Bird and Steven Paul (producer), we had discussions about this,” said Kampouris, who is currently in Greece shooting My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3. “The whole thing, and here I am going back to Greek history . . . from the beginning of time, women have been programmed to sit and be pretty. Entertain the men, be there for their pleasure and enjoyment and that’s it. They have been objectified – the way this movie has this lens through magical realism and through this futuristic setting, it challenges the audience to think, ‘have we really changed much from where we were back yonder?’
Kampouris adds, “Very much so it’s about the programming, the ownership of the women.”
I have been interviewing actors and filmmakers since 1991, and Kampouris goes on my list of GOAT (greatest of all time) interviewees. Check out the full interview below, as she discusses Wifelike, her My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 experience, and why exploring different cultures is a huge passion in her life.
Here is an expample of why interviewing Kampouris was such a breath of fresh air – and now Greece has been added to my bucket list!