LOVE THE ONE YOU LOVE
Dir. Jenna Bass, 2014.
South Africa. 88 minutes.
In English and Xhosa (subtitled).
THURSDAY, MARCH 3 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, MARCH 13 – 5:00 PM
FRIDAY, MARCH 18 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23 – 10:00 PM
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30 – 7:30 PM
Remember that t-shirt that said “COUPLES ARE BORING AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT”? Now that Anti-Valentine’s is over, Spectacle is pleased to present a swirling and intimate vision of modern dating from South Africa: Jenna Bass’ feature debut LOVE THE ONE YOU LOVE.
Anchored by the thousand-gigawatt chemistry of stars Chi Mhende and Andile Nebulane, the film posits love and autonomy at seductive odds, piercing out angles on the most telling minutiae of a relationship’s long and winding forge. Mhende stars as Terri, a phone sex worker who, while deeply in love with her boyfriend Sandile (Nebulane), can’t help but wonder if things are too perfect. Along the way, a despondent IT worker named Eugene (Loew Venter) uncovers a master-list of couples on the Dark Web that serves as justification to try winning back his ex, with whose much younger brother he has kept a fraught friendship.
The two plot strands go unlinked until the film’s third act, a disarmingly sober counterbalancing of romance and reality; the film’s blurring of conspiracy and superstition makes for a perfect analogue with a lover’s mindset. Largely improvised around a twenty-page treatment and aided immeasurably by a steady and endlessly observant handheld camera, LOVE is equal parts tactile psychodrama and freewheeling, hyperlinked RomCom. Bass’ film digs deeper into timeless conundrums of trust and compatibility than the sociopolitics of its Cape Town milieu, but questions about identity and class in the New South Africa are never far from the viewer’s mind. Simpler times resurface as impressionistic digital fragments; passionate arguments and awkward yearnings play out in remarkably real time.
“What is likely a tight budget is masked by Bass’ intimate, rather than irritatingly shaky, hand held camerawork and a dedication to her characters’ words and how they relate to each other. The film has more than one sequence that feels like we, as viewers, are eavesdropping as much as watching the romantic drama unfold.” – Elizabeth Kerr, The Hollywood Reporter
“We need more diverse narratives about Africa – the ones in films like SEX, OKRA AND SALTED BUTTER, PUMZI, and LOVE THE ONE YOU LOVE.” – Lindiwe Dovey, The Guardian