Tuesday 25 June 2013

Love Sucks (2012)

Director: James Politano
Stars: Tony Bafaloukos, Tara McCord, James Politano and Emily Bolduc
This film was an official selection at the Phoenix Film Festival in Phoenix in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 films.
Anyone with a bone to pick with political correctness can't fail to enjoy Jim Politano's glorious dips into the pool of offensive comedy. They clearly can't be rated highly on technical merit, on acting talent or on most things that critics tend to rate, and he'll be the first to agree with me there, but he knows how to write a script that gets a response from his audience. That's not a skill that any filmmaker should underestimate, especially after it won Politano the audience favourite award at last year's Beat the Clock Challenge, the IFP competition for films shot in 48 hours. Love Sucks, a cheap looking black and white short film, was up against films as strong as Screaming in Silence and The Memory Ride, so it took the audience's recognition to land it a slot in the IFP finals at the Phoenix Film Festival. It looked notably out of place next to quality pictures from local production companies of note, but yet again Politano had the audience eating out of his hand.

Love Sucks really is a wake up call to filmmakers. I've talked a lot on this site about how Running Wild can crank out quality product in the time it takes most of us to blink and how UAT should be hiring their students out to big studios because they do better work for less money. Over the next week or so I'll be highlighting how Jump Ship Productions leapt into life in 2012 and targetted all those established names; they provided three of the seven films up against Love Sucks in the IFP finals. This year's films were all serious, except this one. Love Sucks was there to shake them all up and it did exactly that. Politano sets up his film in only two shots, then sets up his audience in an extended scene that leads us all down the road of false assumptions and ends up by pissing off every woman watching. Tony Bafaloukos, one of the best ad libbers in the business, needs to not tour with this film or a female audience somewhere will surely lynch him.
It's hard to imagine anyone more contagious than Bafaloukos when being crude. He's an absolute riot, both in this film and its thematic sequel, The Sisters of St Mary's, which does to religion what this does to the equality of the sexes. Here, he's a slob of a husband, who we first see crashed out on the bed on his wedding anniversary like a beached whale. His wife isn't pleased, given that she shows up to celebrate seven years of marriage with booze and Viagra, so, sure enough, the scene following finds them in front of a marriage therapist, played by Politano himself. Tara outlines her romantic first date with Tony, then he blisters into her with an outpouring of chauvinist invective that makes us wonder if Bafaloukos ever needs to breathe. It's almost impossible for an audience member not to react to one or both of these characters and it's absolutely impossible for them to keep quiet when Politano promptly ratchets it up a notch.

This is a textbook comedy script which surpasses the lack of technical quality otherwise. The film is shot in low res black and white, with crude titles, crude music and crude editing. You're not going to hire Jim to shoot your wedding video, trust me. But the script is so engaging that you're likely to find yourself paraphrasing it at work the next day to whoever happens to be hanging out at the water cooler. Politano has fun playing with our expectations and he has no restraint at all when it comes to slaying sacred cows. He doesn't just slay them, he rends them limb from limb. However cheap it all looks, this is the most fun you'll have with stereotypes all year, guaranteed. When you're done with this one, follow it up with The Sisters of St Mary's, which sees the return of both Tony Bafaloukos and Tara McCord, along with my dear sweet wife as a misbehaving nun. If only we had part three of what must surely become a sacred cow slaying trilogy to finish it all off.

Love Sucks can be viewed for free on YouTube.

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