Monday, July 4, 2011

Love, Etc.

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Romance Documentary Examines Depth of Commitment in Relationships

Love, Etc. is a particularly poignant examination of love which magically ushers the audience right into the middle of the romantic relationships of a variety of native New Yorkers. Over the course of the film, each couple faces a crisis of different sort, and watching them struggle to resolve their issues proves to be most compelling.
The documentary marks the directorial debut of Jill Andresevic who deserves high praise for earning the trust of her subjects to the point that they allowed her to capture their intimate, emotional exchanges on camera. She must also be credited for editing the film in an entertaining fashion which ratchets up the tension and keeps you guessing about the ultimate fates of the five unions.
Each couple’s tale gets its own title, beginning with “Getting Married” which revolves around the impending, elaborate wedding of Chitra and Mahendra, an Indian-American couple from Jamaica, Queens. He’s an unemployed attorney and is clearly unenthusiastic about getting hitched. By contrast, she’s a paralegal and gung ho despite being the breadwinner and having a sexist fiancĂ© who expects her to do the housework when she arrives home in the evening.
Chitra is warned by her mother that “You can have all the money in the world, but if you don’t have a partner who loves and respects you, it means nothing.” So, it isn’t much of a surprise that they’re in crisis soon after exchanging their vows.
“Starting Over” revolves around Ethan, a single-father from Forest Hills who has custody of his two kids, ages 12 and 14. A construction worker, he freely confesses to having little confidence with women whether he meets them on the job or online.
Consequently, the woman he’s currently dating, Erica, is the mother of a friend of his son. Trouble is he’s Jewish, she’s Catholic. Furthermore, she hates his drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes which makes the liaison look doomed from the start.
“Starting a Family” is all about Scott, a gay theater director who lives in Harlem. He hears his biological clock ticking, and finds a female willing to serve as a surrogate mom. However, after the twins arrive 9 months later, he has a difficult finding a partner interest in babies until family-minded David comes along.
“First Love” examines the commitment of a couple of high school sweethearts from SoHo, Brazilian-immigrant Gabriel and straight-A student Danielle. These 18 year-olds have huge crushes on each other, and they-re dreading the prospect of separating when she leaves town for Dartmouth University while he sticks around to matriculate at a film school in Manhattan.
Finally, there’s “Lasting Love” which chronicles the enduring bond between Albert and Marion, who are still crazy about each other after 48 years of marriage. The Canarsie natives also shared a long professional career collaborating as a successful songwriting team, although today doting Albert devotes most of his time to caring for his 89 year-old wife who suffers from dementia.
“Sometimes, she doesn’t know who I am,” he concedes. “But when you love someone, the feelings get stronger as the years go by.” I guarantee that there won’t be a dry eye in the house when Marion responds by taking his hand and whispering “It was nice loving you.”

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 95 Minutes
Distributor: Paladin

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