Toronto After Dark Review: Love
Review by Kayley Viteo
It’s 2039 and astronaut Lee Miller (Gunner Wright) is alone aboard the International Space Station. Cut off from the Earth after some sort of apocalyptical event destroys communications, Miller is faced with the sort of isolation humans are not meant to experience. Once he finds a journal that dates back to the Civil War somehow aboard the ship, Miller’s sanity unwinds further – or does it? Love is a sprawling, stunning and epic sci-fi film that truly must be seen.
Watching Love produced a similar reaction to watching Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, though I doubt it will inspire such divisive reactions. That is to say, Love is oftentimes puzzling, but only in the best sense. There is no linear narrative here, and the story is at once complicated and simple. Miller is utterly, completely alone, and as time progresses, his perception of time and space is suspect. Gunner Wright is excellent in his portrayal of Miller, charismatic and witty in his best moments and devastating in his worst. The script isn’t clear – but it isn’t meant to be, and for that reason it’s easy to deduce that Love isn’t a film for everyone. Still, this is slow, methodical filmmaking backed by an amazing soundtrack. Made over a period of four years, you can certainly see director William Eubank’s evolution as a filmmaker. For the stunning visuals alone, everyone should see this, especially those that have even a mild interest in sci-fi.
Love is, at its core, about the horrors of isolation, and the importance of human connection. For that reason, Love’s story is haunting in a quiet, abstract way that is at once enlivening and disheartening. Without giving anything away (what there is to give), by film’s end Miller is the quintessential outsider, and his perspective is as beautiful as it is absolutely overwhelming. The special effects are intense and wonderful, building slowly to a crescendo, much like the soundtrack by Angels & Airwaves. Love is even more amazing once you consider its budget, and how the International Space Station set was built in the director’s backyard. The set building alone took two years and $12,000, which will never fail to make my jaw drop.
Starting as a series of music videos, which is evident in the final product, Love can feel disjointed. There are moments where the music video feel is too strong, though never enough to make me react overly negatively. Clearly inspired by Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, many of the film’s sequences seem to be interpretations of chapter titles. Everything about this film is thematic, including the score. In the Q&A, the director noted that it “blows my mind … that with all the potential … we focus on tiny, ridiculous [things]“. Love is a film that puts things into perspective and is gorgeous while doing it.
Short film The Weight of Emptiness preceded Love, a brilliant pairing on the part of Toronto After Dark. Where Love is about the importance of human connectivity, The Weight of Emptiness is about the importance of knowing when to let go. Creepy and lovely, with a bittersweet ending, these two worked very well together.
For those of you interested in seeing Love (and you should be), it will be released by iTunes on November 1. This will be iTunes’ biggest film release to date, which should tell you something about the quality of Love. Don’t miss it.