This review is part of my coverage of the 2011 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, taking place October 20-27 at the Toronto Underground Cinema. For more information, check out their website. For my full coverage go here.
My most highly-anticipated film for Toronto After Dark was definitely Love. At first I only knew it as “that Angels & Airwaves movie” (the band both scored and produced the film) but after seeing the trailer my interest was more than piqued. Beginning with a bloody Civil War battle and then jumping ahead to 2039, Love primarily focuses on the experiences of Captain Lee Miller, an astronaut stranded alone on a small space station as an unknown apocalyptic event seemingly destroys mankind on Earth.
With a set composed mostly from found items and parts bought at Home Depot (constructed in the filmmaker’s parents’ backyard) and a production time spanning four years, Love comes off like a mini-miracle. It manages to be both intensely personal in subject and all-encompassing in scope, with a somewhat minimalist script and enough outer space shenanigans to pack a visual punch. Gunner Wright effectively carries the film, giving a sympathetic, tragic, and at times quite funny performance as he slowly loses his mind in a confined space. His total isolation and disconnect from the outside world is palpable, aided by the evocative electronic score and writer/director William Eubank’s thoughtful direction.
Having primarily worked as a cinematographer before Love, Eubank’s vision is ambitious, imaginative, and mostly successful. The opening Civil War scenes are breathtaking, and the surreal ending plays tricks on the eye in an unexpected way. Unfortunately some of the spacey stuff doesn’t work, with a few sort of cheesy effects towards the end.
There is a turning point in Love that will probably leave most viewers pondering the film’s exact meaning, and is likely to turn some people off completely. I think it’s a nice blending of far-reaching science-fiction and introspective exploration of the human condition, managing to get in its titular message without being too sappy. I am left with questions though and am still sorting through my feelings about the film as a whole- especially the ending- so I’ll need a re-watch or two to determine my final thoughts.
4/5 (for now)