Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Now and again you come across a film that is, in some ways, brave and yet which wastes its potential. Brilliantlove is one of those films. Certainly British cinema is not waist deep in arthouse movies whose chief element is sex, in fact, the last British director who tried to catch quite so much copulation on camera was probably Michael Winterbottom, with 9 Songs back in 2004. But as most adults on the planet will tell you, it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it. And brilliantlove falls hard on its immature bare backside between the two stools of pornography and erotica.

Ashley Horner and writer Sean Conway are aiming to explore the passionate end of young love by thrusting us into, well, lots of thrusting between two counterculture kids living on the outskirts of a northern English town. Manchester (Liam Browne) is floppy-haired and fuzzy-brained but deeply in love with girlfriend Noon (Nancy Trotter Landry), who spends her time practising a little light taxidermy in between loving him back with the sort of all-encompassing ardency only the very young and inexperienced seem to muster.

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Enjoying a hot summer of love in a garage 'squat' on the fringes of society, they spend most of the time having sex, which Manchester documents via an instamatic camera. But when a porn baron (Michael Hodgson) comes across some of their pictures and decides to make Manchester a star, it threatens their equilibrium.

Weirdly, for a film that contains such a vast amount of sex - you're rarely many minutes from a bit of inventive coupling - very little of it could be described as 'erotic'. This is largely due to the law of diminishing returns - although kids engaging in this sort of a bonking marathon is understandable, it becomes pretty dull to watch after the first few times. If the sex is not intended to titillate the audience, what then? However artistically shot and bravely acted it may be, if it isn't serving to give the audience a thrill then it should at least be moving the story along. Sadly, it doesn't.

The central love story holds the attention initially as the leads capture the giddy rush of young passion. But despite this and the undeniable artistry of Horner - who shows such obvious talent in terms of his camerawork you wonder what he was thinking picking a project this weak - the film is let down by the script. The story feels juvenile in all the wrong ways, meandering rather than developing for what feels like an age, before overly dramatic things happen, most of which have little or no point.

Much of what Horner manages to create in the mood department is squandered by Conway's pacing and scrappy plot development. Ultimately, the narrative, not unlike some types of sex, you might say, becomes predictable, histrionic towards its climax and leaves you with the lingering suspicion it was all a bit of a fuss about nothing.

Reviewed on: 14 Jun 2010
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A hot summer of young love.
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Chris ***

Director: Ashley Horner

Writer: Sean Conway

Starring: Nancy Trotter Landry, Liam Browne, Jack Dawson, Jessica Appleby, Stephen Beardsley, Mike Elliott, Michael Hodgson, Arabella Arnott, Stephen Bent, John McMahon, Wendy Newman, Tony Danks, Cliff Burnett, Brian Hutchinson, Brian Rush

Year: 2010

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: UK


Tribeca 2010
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