If It Were Love is a hypnotic illustration of life, art and how the two fold into one another. The documentary follows 15 young dancers rehearsing and performing a movement piece. The performances is an ode to 90’s raves, complete with colourful tracksuits and eerie house music.

The director, Patric Chiha, largely lets the camera rest on the dancers, quietly capturing their loving determination. Each twist, jolt and roll is demanding in its exactness, there is no looseness, no absentmindedness in their performances. There is also no sense of a live audience with Chiha’s direction. This was a piece performed in front of people, but Chiha forgoes that and instead works to achieve an intimacy between camera and performer. If It Were Love quietly locks its viewers into a confined space, forced to examine these people and their uninhibited passion.

Chiha cleverly incorporates short interviews into the film, and gradually these pockets of everyday conversations start to reflect the themes of the dance. We hear about heartbreak and falling in love, drinking and partying. There are several moments where the interviewees dwell on love or pain with all-encompassing passion and conviction, and yet it is unclear whether they are discussing their own experiences or the characters they are playing. Life and art are discreetly melding.

While the film explores the balance between these two intangible spheres, it only seems to stumble upon these themes. If It Were Love fails to answer any over-arching queries on account of there being no questions posed. The lack of plot makes Chiha’s observations about performative love and honest connection feel meandering rather than pointed.

Chiha is intrigued by how connections are fostered in spaces where vulnerability is necessitated. For the most part, the film is successful in earnestly exploring these topics, but the lethargic pace undermines If It Were Love.



DIRECTOR: Patric Chiha

SYNOPSIS: A French dance troupe rehearse and perform an emotional piece.