HOT DOCS 2012 (Toronto) – Love Story Review (Paolo Kagaoan)

HOT DOCS 2012 (Toronto)

Love Story

Directed by Florian Habicht

A modelesque young brunette holds a piece of cake on her hand, walking from the financial district of New York City and eventually taking the F or the Q train southbound to Coney Island. A few stops before the last, the woman catches the eye of a tall and slender post-hipster man, the kind who wears the same Bert and Ernie T-shirt and pastel coloured jeans which are so in this season! He asks her out on a date, she tells him to take the subway back one stop and walks towards her and if they find each other or not, it’s meant to be that way. He returns to the area days later and when that doesn’t work he puts up signs asking for her. She answers the ads, they meet at a dive bar and a fake-real romance is born.

The movie is comprised of two interweaving sections – the first is their titular Love Story, shot in a more polished manner and mostly takes place in the apartment of Florian, the hipster man who is German by way of New Zealand. The second is shot through a more basic handheld camera, as Florian interviews random people off the streets and ask them about finding, maintaining or destroying relationships. These random New Yorkers, nice on the outside, reveal their nihilistic streaks and tell him about weird things that could happen to him with his new girlfriend. He also asks his grandfather for filmmaking advice, the latter giving him ideas from movies he’s seen, Florian giving a wonky translation of secondhand fiction to his documented real life.

This is like a choose-your-own adventure kind of movie that technically counts as a documentary because the filmmaker plays themselves in a more heightened, ridiculous version of their real life scenario. One particularly memorable scene is Florian running out to a convenient store to buy condoms while wearing Grinch-looking pyjama tights. He lucks out on that one-in-a-million chance to see the woman again and date her, but I don’t think the genre eh works and has the same standings.

The first few scenes evince such whimsy reminiscent of Truffaut and the rest have the same old-timey jazz songs of early Woody Allen films. I also admire how fearless he and his new girlfriend are in front of the camera, their sexual humiliations – mostly the woman’s whose name is Masha – are used for cheap laughs. I just wished that it sustained the same tone that it had in the first scenes. Too bad it doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be.

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