LOVE (2011) LOVE (2011)
Our resident Sci-Fi expert, AsimovLives, reviews the 2011 film "Love." LOVE (2011)

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Film Information

Title: Love
Year: 2011
Country: USA
Director/Writer/Cinematography/Production Designer: William Eubank
Producers: Angels & Airwaves, Tom DeLonge, Mark Eaton, Daniel Figur, Vertel Scott, Nate Kolbec
Editors: Brian Berdan, Scott Chestnut
Music: Angels & Airwaves
Running time: 86 minutes
Cast: Gunner Wright (Astronaut Lee Miller), Bradley Horne (Captain Lee Briggs), Corey Richardson (General McClain), Nancy Stelmaszczyk (Russian Astronaut Woman), B. Anthony Cohen (Mission Control Chief), Ambyr Childers       (American Astronaut Woman), Roger E. Fanter (The Storyteller), Jesse Hotchkiss (Skateboarder), Troy Mittleider (Iraq War Veteran), Brid Caveney (Retired Motorcycle Racer), James C. Burns (Late Night Host).


Synopsis

21864: During the American Civil War, a company of Union soldiers is entrenched in a mine, bombarded by a Confederate artillery unit. The Union commander, Gen. McClain, dispatches Captain Miller on an away mission, before the Confederates overwhelm them, to seek out and observe something mysterious discovered in Colorado. The Union soldiers rush into a suicidal sortie to give cover to Miller’s departure.

After a long journey, Miller arrives at the Colorado location, where he’s pointed toward a big crater and inside he sees something that shocks his senses.

2036: Abroad an ISS-like space station orbiting the Earth, astronaut Lee Miller composes a skeleton crew of one. His daily routine is to keep maintenance until a full crew arrives and relieves him back to Earth, where upon return he hopes to re-acquaintance himself with the pretty Russian Astronaut Woman he met from the previous crew.

His routine of petty jobs and receiving daily instructions from CAPCOM are constantly interrupted by strange radio noise pikes that Miller has no idea their origin, while Mission Control gives vague answers to his queries.

3After he receives a video mail from his brother informing that he is now a father of a newly born son, Miller loses all contact with Earth. The transmission from Mission Control is a cryptic message and afterwards he’s in complete radio silence with Earth. Miller stoically endures the sudden isolation, thinking it is part of some stress related exercise. But soon enough it becomes obvious that something terrible happened down on Earth, as all the lights from the planet dims out and dies after a series of explosion events.

Days, months and years passes as Miller tries to survive isolated on the space station, with diminishing resources and power. During one of his makeshift attempts to reroute power, he finds an obviously smuggled parcel hidden behind a panel board. The package contains an old journal dating from the Civil War containing the accounts of a Captain Lee Briggs and his astonishing discovery at Colorado. But the journal abruptly ends.

4Miller’s extreme isolation takes a toll on his sanity; he hallucinates the company of the pretty Russian Astronaut Woman and also another person, the American Astronaut Woman, the latter inferred to have been a past relationship.

After a short time, Miller’s concept of reality merges with hallucinations, and eventually the barrier between reality and dream breaks down, while his rational side struggles to maintain his shattered mind focused on survival.


Opinion

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This was a real nice surprise. I had vaguely been aware of this film for some time, and being a space SF movie, of course I had to have a go at it. I’m glad I did.

This movie sits with the recent emergence of space set movies, a type of SF story that seems to have caught the imagination of new young upcoming talented filmmakers.

5If one could see this as a sort of a small SF film movement, this movie is a companion piece to such films as Gravity, Interstellar and Europa Report. I confess I have a very soft spot for these types of films. For quite a long time they have been absent from the cinemas, as for the last two decades Hollywood had been obsessed with action movies as SF. But those aforementioned movies are closer to the style and philosophy of SF of such titles as the hallowed 2001: A Space Odyssey, and so much the better for it. I’m very glad there are filmmakers making these movies. Sometimes, my cinematic prayers are answered by the Gods of Cinema. Or in this case by cool filmmakers.

6The film was made on a very modest $500,000 dollar budget. And while keen eyes will notice the low budget quality of the film, it doesn’t distract from the believability of the images seen onscreen. The special effects are quite good and sophisticated, providing beautiful vistas of space and the Earth.

The cinematography is rich and inventive, namely the constant use of camera angles to cause a sense of disorientation. The camera work is very precise, often favoring one-point perspective shots and 90 degree tilted angles to convey the notion of being in space and the confines of the tubular nature of the sets of the space station.

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And the cinematography truly comes on its own during the Civil War segment, both capturing the grittiness of war and with the help of inventive slow motion, captures some of the most stunning war images if have seen on film in recent years.

11The production design and realistic sets are truly something great. Instead of the high-tech look of space stations as seen in more fantasy type of SF, the movie depicts the space station interior as closer to how a real space station is like, based on images from the International Space Station: walls crowded with bags and cases, tubes and wirings running through the modules, panels and common laptops, giving the notion of the interior of some sort of submarine, living inside a traveling tin can, as commented on David Bowie’s seminal space song “Space Oddity”.

8And speaking of music, the film’s score is composed by super group Angels & Airwaves, who also produced the film as a companion piece to their album also titled Love, with one of its songs gracing the end credits. The music is mostly quiet ambient instrumental, the kind that at times reminded me of the works of the Swedish group Carbon Based Lifeforms, and that’s a good thing.

The editing of the film favors mood and atmosphere over action, which is appropriate given the type of story being told. The editing becomes progressively more Avant-guard and oblique, becoming astronaut Miller’s state of mind as gets more unhinged under the weight of his isolation.

The majority of the acting duties fall upon the shoulders of American actor Gunner Wright.

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Gunner Wright as astronaut Lee Miller

He makes for a very believable astronaut, the type of person whose stoic and rational qualities makes for the right stuff. As his progressive isolation and loneliness takes a toll on him, Wright is able to show a believable gradual fall into a form of functional madness, so to speak, a great representation of a rational mind which breaks and hallucinates to coup with the situation while at the same time being all too aware of his own mental breakdown and the small strategies the mind invents to get an hold of some form of sanity enough to be able to survive. It’s quite a tour de force acting job from Wright.

14Miller’s situation reminds me of the cases of some WWII Japanese soldiers, the Zanryū nipponhei, the stragglers, who found themselves isolated from their command structure and absent of communication with the rest of the world due to the advance of the Allied forces, eventually spending decades in complete isolation in the Pacific Islands or the mountain jungles of The Philippines, believing the war was still going on. It’s such an interesting case study of how humans endure extreme solitaire conditions.

12For it is well known the impact that isolation causes on the human psyche. Humans are gregarious animals and humans seek company instinctively. So the film explores a radical situation of human loneliness from the rest of mankind, and makes for quite an argument about just how important human connectivity is for us, for our sanity and for our basic human nature. Interspaced with the narrative are mockumentary type interviews with four people, called the Storyteller, Skateboarder, Veteran and Former Racer, where all the connecting theme is the nature and importance of to connect with our fellow human beings and how alienating and degrading the absence of common human interaction is.

7And this is what the title of the movie is about; Love, not just in a romantic sense, but also on the wider definition. The Ancient Greeks had four different works for love: Agápe (brotherly love), Éros (sexual passion), Philia (friendship) and Storge (affection), encompassing the whole of the human sentiments toward other people. So, while it might sound strange that a SF space movie might be called Love, the overall content of the story makes it be completely apropos.


Final thoughts

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A pleasant surprise, I’m glad I discovered this movie and I recommend a watch. Be mindful it’s not an action packed movie, as it’s basically a one-man show, as astronaut alone in a space station, and with just himself with company… or does he?

And also, it’s great to see more movies of this type being made. Their absences have been noted, and the emergences of these new movies are extremely welcomed. And as far I’m concerned, all these have been damn good. It seems space SF stories are attracting both new and established talents. I hope the trend continues for many years to come.

Love is recommended.

This is Asimovlives signing off. Have a better one.

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Author Image

AsimovLives

Hailing from the atlantic lusitanian shores, AsimovLives is a native of Portugal (it's in Europe). An enthusiastic fan of Science Fiction and Cinema, together with varied interests in Science, Astronomy, History, Arts, Gastronomy, Wines & Spirits and all things Beauty. Unshakable convictions of humanism, secularism and rationalist kind. Tireless supporter of intelligent and honest-hearted entertainment. Staunch enemy of superstition and all dumbed down shallow hack made cynical cash-grabbing cinema and tirelessly calling out on their supporters, no half-measures. Passion is the game.