For anyone with a toddler, The End Of Love is going to pop off the screen as (too?) real and slightly terrifying. The endless nights of macaroni! Fish death! I mean, what parent goes to the movies to see more kids learning how to chew? Allow me to make an argument. The film stars Mark (director Mark Webber), a fledgling actor and his two-year-old son (played by Issac, Mark’s real life toddler) as they trudge through a lonely life in L.A. after the death of the child’s mother.
That’s the plot in a nutshell, but there are several points of genius: a) using the actor’s actual son makes for the most natural parent/child relationship I’ve ever seen in a film. There are zero glances off screen to confer with mama. There is no awkwardness in the physical interaction and zilch hesitation as the conversations unfold. The naysayer in me wonders if half of this film is ad lib. Even if it was, that might just blow me away even more that the story is told so well. Here is a surprise though: the film is not adorable. Dark Mark deals with his ennui in a few irresponsible, self-destructive ways but the film is completely devoid of the Full House Effect with cued “awww” moments, in case you were worried about that. The toddler plays an oddly real character and there is plenty of drunken smooching after bed time.
That is not to say you won’t suffer a little while watching this. The meta Hollywood navel-gazing, the infuriating decisions Marks makes with his time and money – like, why would you spend money on a babysitter to go out and party, then not spring for a sitter during a big audition? And why wasn’t the baby in a crib just because the mother died? What, she took his crib and all his toys the grave? And why do the angry roommates only appear when it’s time to break heads? Maybe they have jobs or something. Confusing. There were also scenes and relationships with women, but I can’t say either of them carried much of the story. This was really about pops being a lost, lonely parent and coming to the realization he can’t be a couch-surfing artist. The reality is pursuing the arts doesn’t always put macaroni on the table. Please see reasons why you’re poor, item #5.
One highlight I was really looking forward to was the bit part by Michael Cera. He plays himself in an unexpected, edgy role. I loved it! He was a gunslinging power nerd. It was like the first time I saw the Harry Potter kid like this:
I just hope you don’t mind fish cruelty. Spoiler alert: Mark kills a goldfish. At first I thought it was to exert power over the only thing he could really control, but then there was a mushy life lesson and I felt bad for him again.
Anyway, I’d recommend seeing The End Of Love if only to experience the phenomenal effect of this child actor and to see Michael Cera sling a pistol.
Disclaimer: I was asked to review this film and although I was not compensated, I did get tix to the opening of End Of Love at Facets theater this Friday. You may win two tickets too! If you can get yourself to 1517 W. Fullerton in Chicago this Friday, March 15 (The ides of March! Beware!) at 7:00, enter to win ’em by commenting on this post (one comment = one entry) for a pair of free tickets. And come on, you know no one but you is going to enter this mega-drawing since only three housewives in Alaska read my blog, so take your chance. Comment, win, and I’ll see you there, Internet.
The winner will be announced in the comments and via private message on Facebook (depending on your privacy settings) at 5PM tomorrow (Tuesday).
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