Indie Watch: The Truth About Romance
James G. Wall’s debut feature film, The Truth About Romance, is a low-budget romantic comedy that meets and often exceeds the well-worn criteria of its genre. The film tells the story of Josh (Jordan Greenhough), a luckless and lovelorn young man, and his budding relationship with Emily (Danielle Jackson), a mysterious girl who enters into his life through a chance meeting on a park bench. After getting to know each other briefly at a party, Josh and Emily’s relationship blooms as they learn more about both themselves and each other. As Josh and Emily gradually fall in love, the relationship of Josh’s friends Chris (Craig Asquith) and Zoe (Donna Parry) disintegrates under the weight of the two-year itch. The Truth About Romance follows the successes and failures of these two couples, showing us the trials and thrills of young love.
But Truth isn’t content with simply showing how young adults fall into and out of love with one another. Wall’s keen script insightfully captures the malaise that comes from being in your mid-twenties and lacking major life goals and career ambitions. While Josh and his friends are a far cry from the couch-surfing philosophers of Richard Linklater’s Slacker, Wall goes to great lengths to show how his characters feel the paradoxical anxiety of wanting financial security while spurning the maturity – the linear achievements of adulthood, from getting married to raising children – that gainful employment brings.
The strength of a romantic comedy lies in its cast. Truth features capable actors who play their roles well. Greenhough and Asquith have good best-friend chemistry and perform their respective sad-bastard and lecherous ne’er-do-well roles with enough honesty and depth to avoid stereotype. Wall’s real find, though, is Jackson. While Emily at times veers into Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory, Jackson perfectly balances the hyperactivity and humanity of her role. Wall’s script also smartly rewrites the MPDG stereotype by showing how Emily’s pop-cultural interests exist without needing either validation or approval from Josh. Emily controls every encounter she has with Josh, and, by placing her in the narrative’s driver seat, Wall cleverly allows Jackson to play her role against type.
Sometimes Truth leans further into drama than comedy. Despite its numerous humorously instructive discussions about sex, girls, and relationships, Wall’s film features many serious moments. The camera unblinkingly reveals Zoe’s discovery of Chris’ infidelity and lingers uncomfortably on Josh’s face when he gets his heart broken by a pre-Emily crush. These moments of discomfort lend some gravitas to Truth’s obligatory genre checkpoints, allowing us to feel both the heartbreak and happiness of Josh and co.
Wall made The Truth About Romance on an incredibly small budget, spending only £250 on the film. The film’s production values vastly exceed its budget – the cinematography, editing, and sound design are very accomplished. Wall has also made his film available for free on YouTube. Emotionally nuanced and honestly funny, The Truth about Romance is a story about young love that’s well worth its weight in pounds.
A Gallery of Images from The Truth About Romance
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