Book of Love
Book of Love follows struggling writer Henry (Sam Claflin) who finds success in the Spanish translation of his novel, The Sensible Heart. He meets his translator, Maria (Verónica Echegui), and realises that his book has been completely rewritten into something that goes against everything he believes. Meanwhile, Maria is a single mum used to taking care of men (her son, her ex-husband, her grandfather); she works multiple jobs and barely has any time to do her own writing. Funny and charming, Analeine Cal u Mayor’s film puts a new spin on the lost-in-translation trope.
There are a lot of themes at play here. Henry must choose between his integrity and values or success and everything that comes with it; Maria’s storyline revolves around the appropriation of her hard work. The film also explores the translator/writer dynamic (comparing creative differences and the integrity of the original writing against its translation), as well as the power imbalance between men and women. Putting a lot of effort into de-stigmatising sex, The Book of Love actively discusses the taboos of writing it.
Monotone and dull, Henry as a character is not likeable. His conservative and idealistic views on love and relationships are often condescending. Claflin does what he can to add vibrancy to the performance, but to no avail. That said, Henry becomes endearing when interacting with other characters. Claflin and Echegui in general have wonderful chemistry, their childishness playing off each other very well. Maria’s exuberant and infectious personality livens up the blandness in Henry, while he softens his translator’s edge. The result is an excellent comedic and romantic pair.
The build-up of Henry and Maria’s relationship is a combination chaste and passionate, representative of their own contrasting personalities, and highlighted by the audio and visuals. The soundtrack uses Spanish songs to spice up the romance, while English songs underline emotional and tender moments. There’s a mix of both languages in the more fun and quirky scenes to blend the two different worlds together. Meanwhile, simple editing techniques such as key-framing, panning and overlay of social media interactions are used to enhance the overall effect. The Book of Love is a well executed balance of two genres, two languages and two people.
Book of Love is released on Sky on 12th February 2022.
Watch the trailer for Book of Love here: