Indie Watch: Love in Motion
I’m consistently tickled by the fact that, despite my general aversion to the genre in my daily life, my Indie Watch column regularly features appraisals of romantic comedies. In my better moments, I just watch the film and try to determine its good and bad qualities without applying too much of my own biases to the review I’m about to write. When I listen to the devil on my shoulder, though, I’m often left wondering why so many aspiring filmmakers attempt to write twee films about love, heartbreak, and – inevitably, since all of these sad-sack laugh-fests have been made by, or geared towards, young straight men – girls.
The answer to this nagging question is pretty simple: long before Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet (or Romeo + Juliet, for you Baz Luhrman junkies), young love was held up as the core example of the survival of chivalry and romance in Western culture. But thanks to post-modernity, meet-cute comedic cinema, and to some extent Zach Braff, young male filmmakers have become more than a little aware of the effectiveness of distilling chivalry and romance into a lovelorn young man – not dissimilar to the director himself – who’s seen his share of disappointment and heartbreak because he hasn’t yet been introduced to “the one.”
Thank you Garden State, 500 Days of Summer, and your lesser imitators for giving young men everywhere the chance to feel again. By opening the door to self-awareness in romantic comedy, you have made it possible for sensitive male twenty-somethings to express their emotions ironically, sarcastically, and romantically.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike the films I just listed. I count one of them among my all-time favorites, but they nonetheless broke open the dam and allowed a deluge of cutesy male-oriented cinematic fantasies to burst forth onto movie screens everywhere.
This is where young British filmmaker Joe Slack’s new short film, Love in Motion, comes in. The film centers on Josh (Jay Barnard), a heartbroken young Brit who has so much trouble expressing his emotions he needs an imaginary Claymation version of himself to communicate his true feelings. Recently dumped and about to give up on love altogether, Josh meets Sarah (Yazmin Daley) at a sparsely-attended party and immediately takes a shine to her. As Love in Motion progresses, we’re rapidly introduced to the foul-mouthed best friend, the ex-as-complication, and the budding love of the two newfound soulmates.
Slack has definitely done his homework here. The director crosses the boxes on the romantic comedy checklist at such a rapid pace, and with such breezy self-awareness, it’s clear that he’s preternaturally fluent in the genre’s language. Love in Motion is male wish-fulfillment at its finest (boy meets girl, does very little to get girl but gets her anyway, they fall madly in love), but it’s also charming, a little off-kilter, and aware of its own small aspirations. Slack’s little film doesn’t pretend to be more than itself, and because of that it’s definitely worth 13 minutes of your time.