The recent preoccupation in documentary film with revealing the processes that occur behind the scenes has led to Kirsten Johnson’s autobiographical docu-memoir Cameraperson, and Robert Greene’s fascinating take on method acting in Kate Plays Christine. LoveTrue attempts to position itself as another genre-expanding docudrama that draws attention to its method; however, its “dramatic reenactments” are more trouble than they’re worth.
Alma Har’el’s attempt at a Humans of New York-style portrait of ordinary people ends up as a triptych of three unrelated love predicaments that confuse and bewilder by their unusual narrative method. Asking what happens when the fantasy of true love shatters, Har’el’s second feature is sadly captivated by its subjects’ collective misery; its tenuous triangulation transpires as maudlin and melodramatic.
It is hard to tell whether this film is overworked or just careless. For instance, Har’el unnecessarily transcribes Blake, Victory and Will’s narratives into subtitles that are then overlaid on top of pretentious montage sequences shot on super-8. This would be a good film if its form did not so frequently distract from its content; when the source material is left alone it results in some tender moments (such as Will’s enduring love for the son he discovered wasn’t his). Stripping back the genre is generally fine, but this attempt leaves spools of film unravelling before its audience’s very eyes.
The worst thing is not even the film’s stylistic shortcomings but the implicitly misogynistic tone Har’el adopts. Absent mothers, unfaithful girlfriends and career strippers are the film’s set of antagonists. It’s pretty disappointing really.
Alma Har’el serves up a liberal dosage of schadenfreude in her highly ineffective docudrama LoveTrue. With an overly prescriptive tone and far too much inelegant self-exposure, not even the original music by Flying Lotus can save this one.
CAST: Blake Gurtler, William Hunt, Victory Boyd
DIRECTOR: Alma Har’el
SYNOPSIS: An Alaskan stripper, a New York busker and an Hawaiian coconut farmer share tales of their heartbreak.