Sunday, 7 December 2014

Movie Review: Love Is Now (2014)


An old-fashioned term for the world of cinema is ‘moving pictures’, but I honestly think that it is not only antiquated but also wildly inaccurate. While cinematography plays a big part of the production as a whole, there has to be some form of substance behind why we’re being shown what we’re being shown. Some largely visual directors like Terence Malick, as far as I’m concerned, still haven’t figured this out and continue to just arrange admittedly well-captured shots together to form something resembling cohesion if you squint at it sideways. Sure, at its core, the term is accurate: A film is a series of still pictures shown at a certain speed to give the illusion of movement. But at the basis of what cinema is in reality, it’s only part of the overall picture. So, with this in mind, let’s look at today’s movie: This is Love Is Now.

The plot: Dean (played by Eamon Farren) and Audrey (played by Claire van der Boom), two budding photographers and our romantic leads, decide to throw caution to the wind and take the New South Wales Harvest Trail to Mount Warning, a trip Audrey has always wanted to take.

For a film that spends so much time musing on photography and its nuances, I can at least say that debut Australian director Jim Lounsbury can back that up with some very nice looking visuals: Whether it’s the time-lapse transitions or just the really well-framed shots throughout, the man clearly knows his way around a camera. Not only that, the editing shows some quality as well: The events of the film, along with several shots, are arranged almost like a scrapbook of events; flipping back and forth between the past and the present while layering with intercuts from various points in the film’s timeline. While it does sacrifice coherency to a very minor degree, it does result in a very striking style that helps add to the film’s visual appeal. Unfortunately, there is a reason this review starts the way it does: While Lounsbury has a certain flair behind the camera, we don’t get anything even remotely good with the innards of the film. The casting here is well done with some realistically good-looking people that actually exist in the real world (Even if Eamon does look slightly like a melting Frank Woodley) and their acting is good for what they’re given. However, what they are given is an extremely lackluster script that spends almost all of the run time meandering from scene to scene. Hell, calling them ‘scenes’ even seems too generous, since there is a surprising lack of action going on in any given moment of film. This is compounded by the fact that, whenever something actually does happen that should incite some drama in the proceedings, it never does because it is drowning in a pool of banality. The chemistry between our two leads… exists, far as I can gleam, but it’s never given anything to grab onto and create something interesting to fill up the relatively short running time.

That’s not to say that the entire film is boring; the ending actually does a good job of engaging the audience and keeping their attention. Problem is, however, that the film does this through extremely hackneyed and borderline insulting plot turns, which means *SPOILERS* and skip to the last paragraph if you want to avoid them. It is shown throughout the film that there is clearly something wrong with Dean, although we never get told what it is so I’m just going to assume it’s some form of Plot Convenience Disorder. When his mental disorder makes itself fully known, it throws literally everything we just saw into question. Not only that, it’s a plot twist that is usually mocked in most film buff circles because of how clich├ęd it is: Turns out that Audrey died some point prior to their departure to the Harvest Trail, meaning that she has been a hallucination in Dean’s head for most of the movie. Even ignoring how much confusion this throws into what Dean has actually done and why, despite the film’s own attempts to bring everything together through flashback, it is revealed in story that Audrey had been dead for about 2 years and Dean had been on the road that whole time. My only guess is that Lounsbury left out any names for Dean’s disorder so as not to bring the psychoanalyst’s hammer down on his head for not knowing what the hell he’s talking about. To make matters worse, this could have honestly been a good twist and made for enough dramatic moments to save this film, or at least just make it a mediocre affair overall. But then it keeps going from there: Dean arrives home, processes all of the photos that he took during his trip and puts on an exhibit, where he is given the praise he always wanted. In short, they frame his mental breakdown (let’s not mince words here) as a good thing as it gave him confidence he never had before. As someone who has certain mental problems himself, words cannot describe how offensive I find this ending and the message behind it. That Dean didn’t immediately get put into psychiatric care after what happened, instead brushing it all off as being just a learning experience for himself, is the kind of movie magic one would expect in a glossy Hollywood film, not an indie Australian production. Then again, calling it indie is more in terms of style than its actual production, since this is co-produced by Nikon Australia, a camera manufacturer. Kind of sums it all up right there, doesn't it?


All in all, as much as I would love to give a semi-local production props to give the cinema of my home some attention, this is pretty abysmal. While visually well put together, and the actors do well given their material, the majority of it is extremely bland with what little action that does happen either landing with a small thud or inducing confusion from the audience. Add to that the kind of ending that means that the audience has just wasted their time because of how little of the film actually meant anything, and you have Love Is Now in a nutshell. I highly doubt that anyone else will have been as offended by the ending as me, but that doesn’t change how I feel about it. This ranks lower than I, Frankenstein, as at least the acting there was engaging in some respect, but it’s still better than Planes: Fire And Rescue, which did a more consistent job of pissing me off. I’d say avoid this movie at all costs, but given how limited this film’s release is, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

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