Director Alma Har’el turns the concept of true love on its head in this genre-bending documentary following stories from the extremities of the United States. The film explores both romantic and parental love as it plays with the idea that we write our own past traumatic and romantic experiences into narratives that shape our future.
The documentary follows three stories: young Alaskan couple Blake and Joel have a touching relationship despite Joel’s physical illness; Hawaiian coconut farmer Will discovers that his son is the biological offspring of his ex-girlfriend and his best friend; and the musically gifted Victory lives in a family house in New York City with her siblings and father after her parents have split up for reasons she doesn’t know.
Taking inspiration from psychodrama, a psychotherapy technique where patients act out events from their past, the audience see re-enactments of significant events in the subjects’ lives. These scenes are often fairytale-like in nature and through this blurring of lines between fiction and nonfiction Har’el presents her subjects as the heroes of their own myths. This device results in some beautiful imagery, a highlight being when Hawaiian surfer Will imagines wrestling his love-rival whilst floating suspended underneath the Pacific ocean – creating a slo-mo diorama that is reminiscent of a Greek tragedy.
Filmed over a few years, Har’el is successful at penetrating the lives of her subjects, giving the audience an insight into some intensely private moments. Dizzying home-movie style shots and close-angle framing of people’s faces create a sense of closeness and intimacy, whilst footage of day-to-day living and insights into the past give the viewer a holistic impression of their lives, past, present and future.
The movie was executive produced and funded by Shia LaBoeuf, who in recent years has shown increasing dedication to independent cinema and art. The decision to accommodate several different angles on love arguably dilutes the message; however, the dreamy soundtrack from Flying Lotus saves the contrasting storylines from becoming too disjointed and helps to create a strong identity. The end result is ultimately creative, experimental and uneasy – although at times it feels as if the relative ordinariness of the stories is being overcompensated for by melodrama.
Tarn Rodgers Johns
LoveTrue is released in selected cinemas on 10th February 2017.
Watch the trailer for LoveTrue here: