There’s much to admire about JDIFF winner Love Eternal. I just wished it had taken itself a little less seriously…
IAN (Robert De Hoog) is a ‘non-functioning human being’, turning his back on life at the age of 16 and confining himself to his bedroom to mope online, obsess over death and go a bit ‘Howard Hughes’. His mother dies and he decides to take an indirect path towards checking out of life altogether. This involves a cold fascination with women who may not be long for this world themselves. When Ian starts making them dinner and bringing them for walks along the seaside, it’s but a guitar riff away from Tom Petty’s Mary Jane’s Last Dance.
Adapted from Kei Oishi’s novel In Love With The Dead, this macabre curio won the Dublin Film Critics Circle ‘Best Irish Feature’ at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival this year. De Hoog’s performance is a study in low-wattage control, leaving the female roles (Pollyanna McIntosh and Amanda Ryan) to breathe colour into the glacial mood, even while dead.
It’s stylish work but cracks start to show after a while. De Hoog’s blank face and meandering psychopathy start to get tiresome as the central message of the film drifts from sight. Is writer/director Brendan Muldowney suggesting that psychos have feelings too? Or that it’s OK to be a deathly recluse who mummifies bodies and collects dead-animal carcasses? Such ideas would make for dark fun if Love Eternal had more humour in its DNA. Instead, it wants to be a cold-blooded mood piece that relies on Tom Comerford’s handsome cinematography and a kooky soundtrack to drum-up enigma.
First published in the Sunday Independent