Reviewed by Mason Manuel
At one point in LiveLove, our two protagonists discuss how having expectations going into relationships is the biggest reason why they fail. Perhaps the same can be said about Indie film. Many times when we at RDR get a screening link from a new director we watch with simultaneous excitement and hesitation because we can’t wait to see a cool new idea but cringe at possibly seeing shoddy work from an untested cast and crew. Sometimes it works, others it doesn’t but I am happy to say with LiveLove it absolutely does. A clever script with excellent cinematography and performances makes for an exceptional experience and speaks volumes for the team behind its conception.
Writer and director Rob Levy tells the story of Lily and Chris (played by Elena Rusconi and Matthew Tarricone respectively). Chris is an average young man, working an unremarkable job in New York. Lily on the other hand makes a living from being a pornographic webcam model. The two cross paths when Chris has an animated argument with his girlfriend who soon becomes an ex, leaving Chris on his own. Lily bears witness to this and hits Chris up for a light for a cigarette. He says he doesn’t have one and boom, chemistry is born. This is the one facet of LiveLove that is hard to get behind. For such an intelligent script, this first meeting seems arbitrary and forced compared to the rest of the material. I would have enjoyed to see a more natural feeling first encounter, but it’s a small negative drop in what is a positive ocean.
The script smartly plays the concept of love off from the two’s conflicting perspective. Chris, with a normal enough family and simplistic life simply thinks love is irrational and that relationships should focus more on simply liking to spend time with the person you with. Lily thinks love is more misunderstood, and really means having reliance on a person rather than actual affection. Being with someone hoping that you will fall in love with them sets you up to fail because you already have preset expectations. Both make valid arguments and play off the strengths and weaknesses of each argument well. The script is the real star of the film because it forces the viewers to do something rarely seen at the movies; to think.
Though we see a supporting character here and there, almost all of the screen time goes to Chris and Lily. Their welcome never feels overstayed which is thanks to some excellent performances from both actors. Their first meeting comes off a bit clunky and there are bits and pieces throughout that don’t always sell off their legitimacy, but the majority of their time together feels real and believable. This is helped by a professional production crew that, despite relying on crowdfunding, does an excellent job of creating a professionally executed film. Opening shots of the city in the morning are beautiful and the shadiness of Lily’s profession is further accentuated with dark muddled frames that only give us glimpses of her actions until Chris eventually decides to look up her porn profile for himself. Along with the cinematography comes a fantastic original score composed by Julian Crowhurst. Starting with a beautiful piano melody and then later evolving into more subtle and ambient tones, the entire movement feels natural with the goings on screen. For a production without a big budget studio backing, both these aspects are extraordinarily impressive.
LiveLove is an achievement for both cast and crew and should not be missed. Accentuating the complications of a modern love complete with Tinder and online pornography, the film is not afraid to ask the tough questions facing today’s relationships. Complete with great acting and great production value, Rob Levy proves his talent with both writing and directing. RDR gives LiveLove a 9 out of 10.