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Love the One You Love
Genre Romance

Love the One You Love could be described as an intimate found footage romance drama. While the shooting style doesn't involve camcorders, the up close and personal style of this low budget film creates a similar fly-on-the-wall feeling as we become acquainted with four people living (and loving) in Cape Town.

From a kooky Chinese trinket-infested apartment to the wide open spaces of the Sea Point promenade, our characters find themselves tested by the forces of love. Director, Jenna Bass, has created a free-spirited indie romance set in the not-so-New South Africa, where one couple wrestle with their feelings and fate, as a "big brother" struggles to move on from a failed relationship.

The "script" has an anything-goes feel about it as ad-libbed dialogue spins a modern love story that involves a sex phone operator, a sangoma, street racing and the ebb-and-flow of fragile human emotion. The spontaneity keeps things fresh, unpredictable and naturalistic as this unusual film proceeds to wrap and unwrap itself.

Chiedza Mhende and Andile Nebulane have good on-screen chemistry and illuminate a light and playful relationship on the cusp of a turning point. Mhende grapples with the elemental Terri, who re-evaluates her love life, being distracted by her on-call job and other career opportunities. Andile Neulane brings a lot of warmth to Sandile, a joyous soul and playful spirit, distressed and suspicious of his lover's indecision.

Louw Venter and Dayaan Salie counterbalance the lovers with what starts as a sweet big brother friendship. Venter taps into the frayed ends of Eugene, a seemingly simple IT guy grasping at fading memories and trying to resuscitate his love life. His interactions with young Mo, played by Dayaan Salie, show deep frustration and paranoia building as he becomes obsessed with the idea of his ex-girlfriend.

The rich performances, empathetic direction, on-the-fly cinematography and free-flowing dialogue keep Love the One You Love honest and quite fascinating. It begins with aplomb as the novelty store excitement reverberates and mysteries abound. Serene and surreal screensaver style imagery intersects scenes as a refresh and reminder of the mind games at play.

Yet, the energy isn't sustainable and as our characters reveal their self-doubts, it seems as though Love the One You Love begins a similar descent. As if coming out of an infatuation, the film jitters as an unintentionally funny moment involving conspiracy and the hint of an unexpected romance enters a cul-de-sac.

These deviations aren't absurd enough to derail the tone of the film completely, but make the experience uneven and somewhat rushed after an inspired first half. We're still invested in the plight of the characters, amused at the juxtaposition of happy and sad love stories, but perplexed by a charming, intimate, original and unconventional film that loses its way, almost on purpose.

The bottom line: Peculiar

6.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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