Love (2011)

Okay, it’s strange.  I’m glad we got that out of the way.

This is of course, the real thing.  A genuine, totally outside the system, independent film.  Made for a reported half-a-million, William Eubank built the incredible interior set of his international space station in his driveway.  Yes, it looks a lot bigger than that, but then, the technical skill on display in this film is astounding.

Its images of space, the station and the Earth from space are all well done.  But then we’ve come to expect that, even from these sorts of films.  As C3PO would put it, “Thank the Maker!”

But the film itself…

It starts with a soldier back in the Civil War.  Yes, you read that right.  He is sent off on a secret mission, involving a mysterious discovery, which is pretty much the last we actually see of him.  Well, except for a few photos.

Then there’s Lee Miller, an astronaut sent up by himself to get the station ready to be reopened.  While he’s there, something happens down on Earth, and his communications are cut off.  We never learn what happened, other than being told that Miller is the last survivor of the human race.

Stuck on his own, unable to return, Miller begins to hallucinate.  In between, there are odd little clips of random people talking about important moments of their lives, which don’t seem to have any relationship to the rest of the film.  At least, not at first.

The comparisons to 2001 are pretty much inevitable.  One reviewer described it as an entire movie’s worth of the stargate sequence of that film, and it’s hard to argue with that one.  Some of the effects in the final sequence make me think of The Fountain, but that would merely make them third-hand.

The soundtrack comes from the Angels and Airwaves album of the same name (one of the inspirations for the film), with a few additional songs.  It mostly seems appropriate and instrumental: the only vocals appear on the song played over the final credits.

All in all, it is a beautiful film,  with great visuals and reasonably good performances (I’m not going to quibble about normal Earth gravity in the space station.  Flying people on wires is tricky and potentially dangerous.  Definitely not something you want to try to do in your driveway).  The final gee-whiz sequences are genuinely strange, often unsettling, but the underlying theme behind all this mystical imagery is just a touch too banal to support the weight of the film.

If your film preferences run towards the arthouse end of the spectrum, then you should enjoy this thoroughly accomplished film (although everyone else may succumb to terminal head scratching).  After Darren Aronofsky’s epic treatment of the wonders of death, a film that concentrates on our need for connection is definitely welcome.  William Eubank may prove to be worth watching.  You never know.

I just hope he has somewhere else to park his car.

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