DOPAMINEGIVE INDIE A CHANCE | Dec 12, 2003
Ah, the brutality and courageous side of LOVE. Love is what we, as social creatures aspire towards, in an indifferent sea of billions and billions of souls. But if you stripped away all of the magic, you’d be left with mere equations of evolutionary evidence. Some argue that Love is only a “push” of norepinephrine and dopamine (Nature’s amphetamines); tangled neuron synapses. We often confuse lust and love, and there are even biological timelines for ‘the wandering eye’ and loss of attraction. At least that’s what Rand Forrester thought.
Fed a strict regiment of science by his father (William Windom), who had been coping with the “loss” of his wife to Alzheimer’s disease, Rand had nothing left to believe in. It was much easier for him and his father to alienate themselves from feeling, to break down emotions into tangible explanations. It was much easier for them to remove the pain, rather than repeatedly experience it. It didn’t help that he was a lonely computer animator in the harsh dotcom wreckage of SF, immersed in work with a perforated track record of previously failed relationships. This is, ironically, where unrequited love steps in; where one party refuses to receive this blind loyalty fully.
Initially, when Rand (John Livingston, resembling Ben Affleck, above center) meets Sarah (Sabrina Lloyd, resembling Mare Winningham, above right), he feels a connection, a spark. Too shy to even introduce himself, he watches her leave with his lascivious friend (Brunos Campos). Not to worry, the two find each other again the very next day, and he pursues her in this strange, unromantic vibe. Rand even states mid-liplock that this occurance is only the aforementioned synapses and junk. Of course, Sarah is perturbed, and the couple results in obvious limbo.
As the film progresses, we learn what Sarah’s big secret is, and what is holding her back. While the realism of not being able to share your worst fears and secrets with someone you are dating is refreshing, there is a definite lack of heat between the two actors. If this movie is supposed to be about chemistry, this is a distraction. There is, however, scintillating sexual tension in the tiny scenes of cute courtship between Rand’s friend/co-worker Johnson (Reuben Gundy), and Rand’s ex-gf Machiko (Nicole Wilder). [Side trivia: both actors also starred in 40 Days + 40 Nights]. But I loved that Rand + Sarah were basically the shell of the same person, (insecure yet curious), desperately clutching at opposing lessons.
An interesting sideline was “KoyKoy” (how subtle, teehee), the timid 3D voice recognition character Rand labours over, followed by a query into whether or not KoyKoy needs a mate. Rand’s angst and objections to having his ‘baby’ product-tested by kindergarteners relates to his fears and inabilities to let go. Another nice touch was a brief convo concerning Rand’s reliance on medication to control his hypothyroid condition. When Sarah quizzes him about the possibility of placebos, he quickly brushes that accusation away. He also tries to drive home that Love as just another drug addiction, even likened to that of caffeine (co-writer Tim Breitbach announced more references +comparisons were unfortunately cut out).
The original score by Eric Holland, engorged with gorgeous guitar tones, beautifully accompanies the couple’s struggle for acceptance of each other, and of themselves. It allows us to contemplate our own journey as well. It also lends us a soothing escape as we watch Rand crawl-stroke against the current in (eew) bay water. The entire movie actually feels like you are immersed under-current, waiting for these two to make up their minds, wishing you could give them that necessary shove. But, as in reality, we cannot make someone love another, until they learn to love themselves.
Sure, as expected in any debut, there were uncomfortable pauses/ dragging, little glitches in the dialogue and dreaded predictability. One may say that this has been done before -- pairing the doubter and the revelations --even Sleepless in Seattle dealt with that. Overall, this was an excellent starting point for an intriguing concept. These are talented people. I hope to see more from them real soon.
In a quick introduction, Director Mark Decena (deeply in love with his wife for 15 years) describes how, in our present overflow of information, we tend to over-analyse and remain critical, if not cynical, of how Love intends to work. In a quick Q&A session, co-writer Breitbach (deeply in love with his wife for 13 years), revealed that during research for the film, his opinions evolved but did not stray. He and Decena agree that Love is magical and should be fully embraced, not questioned. In the end, of course, Love conquers all.