Too often these days, people judge films on their production value or how much money was wasted on special effects and expensive camera jibs, etc. And yet, hardly any of these big-budget films spend any time on developing a good script with realistic and engaging characters. To find stories with heart and well-rounded characters, we really need to seek out independent films. Unfortunately, there are not enough venues brave (smart) enough to accommodate such films that lack the unnecessary aspects of budget and star-power.
"Love" is a tremendous film. One needs to respect and take into account that despite having little to no budget, Vladan Nikolic (director/writer/editor) and Jim Stark (producer) have created a gripping story that accomplishes so much with so little. Great storytellers should not be silenced for lack of funds. Great storytellers like Mr. Nikolic and Mr. Stark should be revered for presenting a story with a taut and smart script, strong and engaging performances by noteworthy actors, and they do so with a laughable budget by industry standards. I say laughable only because most critics will say it's impossible to shoot a film and upgrade it to 35mm for less than the value of an SUV. Smart film-making is turning your limitations into strengths, and the choice to shoot on DV-24p (I believe they used the Panasonic DVX-100) is a great one that it lends to flexibility of location shooting (inconspicuous), and ability to transfer up to 35mm at a later date.
The non-linear storytelling is well planned. The use of narration is brilliantly justified in the conclusion of the film. Very smart writing and proves Mr. Nikolic's understanding of the narrative. Critics have likened "Love" to such films as "Pulp Fiction" "Rashomon" and "Dirty Pretty Things" and I think it deserves this recognition, as well.
The point of any good film is to expose its viewer to a greater understanding of the world and the many viewpoints and cultures and issues both past and present. Most films out today in theatres are just gimmicks or remakes. It takes guts and determination to work against budgetary odds. In my opinion, it shows that the cast and crew believed strongly in the story and vision and their leader/director and producer. Also noteworthy is the strength of the collaborating production companies: Studio Belgrade Films, Mikado Film (Italy), Why Not Productions (France), Thoke + Moebius Films (Germany), and Patrick Lindemaier (Swiss Effects film lab).
The cast is strong. I hope to see every one of them in more films. Sergej Trifunovic (Vanya) is one of the best young male actors in the film scene, today, in my opinion. I would say he is as close as a Klaus Kinsky as we have today (hopefully not like Kinsky was off-camera)! Geno Lechner (Anna) is equally powerful in her restraint and portrayal of her melancholy character. This is not an easy thing to accomplish for actors, but both do it brilliantly in their ability to emote powerful performances through subdued characters. (Heath Ledger was very effective at this in Brokeback Mountain). Expect to see big things from both of these actors in the future.
Jim Stark proves, once again, himself as one of the smartest and successful producers on the circuit. On his producing resume are such indie classics and strong films as: "Factotum" (also screenplay), "Cold Fever" (also screenplay), "Mystery Train", "Down by Law", "Night on Earth", and many others.
Original Score - the original score by Standing In Lines is solid and effective to the point that it never detracts from the story, but only enhances the pace and mood. In addition, the cameo and performance by Sxip Shirey is awesome... he is tremendous and this scene adds a hauntingly powerful moment to the film. It's good to see a film smart enough to use music/musicians that are willing to collaborate on the film. Too often, filmmakers use any music that they want just to get it on the circuit and they perish by this decision because the music rights issue is not cheap. I applaud all filmmakers and films that use local musicians that come from the same location as the film's shoot since it will only enhance the life of the story taking place there.
If you are judging this film on its production value restrictions (occasional out of focus clip or audio glitches) then you miss the point and I feel sorry for you. To the DP's credit, working with the Panasonic DVX-100 is not always easy since there is no auto-focus when in 24p cinematic mode, and the focus keyring is continuous, which makes it impossible to key focus stops or be able to properly handle any track shot. I think the camera crew did an impressive job with what I assume was a mostly run-and-gun production of covert filming. "Love" has great characters and a good solid story that will open your eyes wider than just the NYC streets. Plus, it may be your last chance to see Williamsburg, Brooklyn before the developers ruin it forever.
If you have not seen this film, or are having reservations about seeing a low-budget indie film, you need to recognize that film festivals like Tribecca, Venice, Prix Cinema, and Oldenburg only screen strong film-making accomplishments in the cinematic art.
Hats off to the entire crew, associate producers (Maggie Hease and Betty Garcia), DP (Vladimir Subotic), Jim Stark (producer) and Vladan Nikolic (writer/director/editor) for making this film despite all the presumed budgetary restrictions. A great accomplishment, and deserves recognition and more theatrical screenings.