Bryan F. Irrera (bfirrera) wrote,
Bryan F. Irrera

Love Life - Movie 4 - Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival - 2006

After leaving the Prince, I had to haul ass to make it to the Arts Bank on South and Broad (and the awards presentation to Daryl Stephens had eaten up some time).

At least the sun was shining brightly with no sign of the rain that had plagued us earlier.

I got to the theatre just a few minutes before they starting taking people into the auditorium.

Love Life ( was written and directed by damiondietz (who you can also find at I've been a fan of Damion's since I first saw Fag Hag seven (or was it eight?) years ago at the Festival (I saw it twice on the big screen, having enjoyed it so much I dragged Paul with me to the second showing of it, and own both a VHS & a DVD). I've enjoyed all of Damion's work to date and while some may see this as a departure (considering that both "Fag Hag" and last year's entry "Beverly Kills" have a "John Waters"-esque vibe to them), I see that all of his movies have stood completely on their own: "Neverland" is a dark (some might say "Goth") reimagining of the Peter Pan story. The so far never released on video/DVD "Virgin Larry" is much more in the Christopher Guest-type mockumentary style (and his troupe of actors led by the always wonderful Saadia Billman were certainly up to the improv task at hand for that one).

What sets this one apart, primarily, is that it is a drama.

It reminded me in tone/style of Woody Allen's more dramatic pieces ("Another Woman" or "Husbands and Wives" for instance) , Alan Ball's "American Beauty" and even the stage plays of Arthur Miller and William Inge.

It explores the dark underbelly of a marriage of two people who share a lie and live in constant denial of their true selves. Though married, both Mary and Joe are gay and are unsatisfied with their home life (even sleeping in separate beds). Joe's pent up frustrations lead him to the new gardener/landscaper. Mary's drive her to her old college roommate/flame.

A framing device of an interview places most of the movie in flashback, looking back on a day that challenges the boundaries of their relationship(s). When the interview scene is repeated in it's proper timeframe context, the answers that Mary gives about her life and marriage are revealed as a sharp contrast to her reality.

The hand held "shaky cam" gave this film a bit of a rawness and edge as well. It made me feel as if I was spying on the neighbors.

Strong performances by the whole cast are led by Stephanie (Orff) Kirchen as Mary. There are many shots of Mary wherein no dialogue is being spoken but volumes are being shown by the expressions on Mary's face and the visible sadness/loneliness in her eyes. Stephan D. Gill as Joe is also very strong as a man suffering in "quiet desperation" .

Mr. Dietz spoke afterwards and stated that the characters are based on a couple that he knows and that while they are aware of the film's existence they may never admit even to themselves that it relates to their situation.

I appreciated that this film depicted gay characters of both genders which is something we rarely find in films. We are already so marginalized, it's a shame to polarize us even more away from each other. I also appreciated that none of the characters were the typical stereotypes that we might find in the cinema (even pervasive throughout films made by gays 'cause they are perhaps just a simple shorthand).

It also made me think that this was a movie that could be successful with mainstream audiences. While some straight audiences may cower from the idea of "two men kissing" or whatever, this movie may open the eyes of many married couples (not only those who are gay/closeted). I could see a lot of this relating to any marriage dissolving (example: our friends, Kris and Becky).

It's heavy stuff, but very much worth the viewing.

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