Love Live Long

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Taormina Film Festival

TAORMINA, Italy -- However avant-garde and stylistically constructed Mike Figgis' "Love Live Long" may be, it ultimately gives way to a cliched storyline that will be a hard sell for standard exhibitors. The film will appeal mostly to the diehard fans of the director's trademark voyeurism.

Initially asked to shoot a documentary on the 2007 Gumball 3000 Rally, Figgis instead made another examination of eroticism, a subject he deems too important to be left to the porn industry. He cast the film just days before production began and shot with hand-held digital cameras over one week, which only heightens the sense of there having been very little screenplay to work from.

The pace is slow, there are numerous tight close-ups and the material -- both fictitious and real (including news footage of a fatal accident during last year's rally) -- is mixed with abundant visual effects and very loose editing.

The sparse story begins with a beautiful woman, Rachel (Sophie Winkleman), waking up alone, masturbating, slitting her wrist and wandering the streets of Istanbul as she records her video suicide diary. The only other character is Darren (Daniel Lapaine), a rich, married Gumball driver stranded in the Turkish capital after local customs officials impounded all the racing cars.

He and Rachel cross paths and end up in his hotel room for a one-night stand meant to satisfy her self-destructiveness and his (psychological) sadism. Their encounter begins with Darren having phone sex with his wife as Rachel lies expectantly on his bed before cutting to the following day when she wakes up with hundreds of euros strewn across her body.

However, when Rachel follows Darren to another stop on the rally the story turns into a typical fatal attraction. She thanks him for finally having made her feel something and creepily informs him they are now a part of each other's lives. More stalking and the film's open ending ensure that Darren has not heard the last of her.

If this is the alternative to classic pornography, it's hard to determine which is more -- or less -- indicative of the nature of desire. With very little nudity and no sensuality, "Love Live Long" plays like intellectual porn - all plot and no action. Yet the film offers no further insight into the notions of victims and victimizers. But you have to hand it to Figgis: Few directors are able to alternate commercial cinema with uncompromising experimentalism as consistently as he does.

Production Company: Gumball 3000 Films, Red Mullet. Cast: Daniel Lapaine, Sophie Winkleman. Screenwriter/Director: Mike Figgis. Producer: Figgis, Patrick Fischer. Director of Photography: Figgis. Music: Figgis, Arlen Figgis. Editor: Arlen Figgis. Sales Agent: Swipe Films. No rating, 76 minutes.
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