Love Etc.: Film Review

TV reality show-style doc offers superficial portraits of amour.

Shot over 12 months, this indie documentary from Jill Andresevic tracks the love relationships of a disparate group ranging in age from 18 to 89.

NEW YORK — Cheesy reality shows monopolize the TV schedule, but must they infect our multiplexes as well? Love, Etc., Jill Andresevic’s documentary depicting the romantic travails of various New Yorkers, is a disturbing example of a trend that is to be soundly discouraged.

Shot over 12 months, the film tracks the relationships of a disparate group ranging in age from 18 to 89. They include high school sweethearts Danielle and the Brazilian Gabriel, who face conflicting post-graduation plans; Albert and Marion, octogenarians married for more than half a century who are still deeply in love; Ethan, a divorced father of two teenagers who is nervously reentering the dating world; Scott, a single gay man desperate to have a child; and Chitra and Mahendra, Indian newlyweds coping with the pressures of marriage.

Andresevic inserts numerous shots of random couples necking or embracing as a framing device, as well as utilizing cutesy chapter headings. The film then combines confessional interviews with cinema-verite style depictions of life-changing events like Marion’s early symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Scott’s discovery that his surrogate mother is pregnant with twins.  

Thankfully, most of the subjects at least prove engaging. Albert and Marion are songwriters who hope that their latest effort will become an anthem to their beloved Brooklyn; Scott, a theater director seen rehearsing his latest production with actors Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Justin Kirk, hosts dinner parties featuring impromptu musical numbers; and Chitra and Mahendra’s wedding is a lavish, traditional Indian affair.

The teens’ romance is the chief clinker, seemingly better suited for young audiences of the WB network. Likewise, Ethan’s obvious drinking problem really belongs on A&E’s Intervention.

But there’s a bigger problem in this study of love’s vagaries, namely the indications of manipulation on the part of its director. Too often, the developments don’t ring true. And given the piece’s already shallow nature, the results are more voyeuristic than illuminating. 

Opens: July 1 (Paladin)
Production: Walnut Hill Media, in association with Isotope Films and Alchemy Media Lab
Director: Jill Andresevic
Producers: Jill Andresevic, Jeffrey Stewart, Chiemi Karasawa
Executive producer: Jonathan Tisch
Director of photography: Luke Geissbuhler
Music: Rob Simonson
Editors: Alex Israel, Mary Manhardt
No rating, 94 minutes