Love Sick

Love Sick


Reviewed by: Chris

Love Sick is a tale of pure unfettered romance that skates over dangerous waters. The lightness and rapidity of its dialogue hides a literary depth that is easy to miss. The two lead characters give significantly assured and fine performances as the carefree youngsters in a heady romance within a world of teenage absolutes.

Alex and Kiki meet at university in Bucharest. What first begins as a natural friendship, soon becomes an intense love affair. "I wonder if this building is earthquake proof," says one early in the script, clearly joking, and with the same childish belief in invulnerability that soon characterises their relationship.

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One of the opening images is of the two of them running through the rain - a scene Kiki later dreams of the first night she stays over at Alex's place. The film quite deliberately runs in this ambience of fairy-tale romance for a while - "I could smell the scent of sleep on her, and that's when I desired to see her always, every morning." It is an idealistic celebration of emotional warmth and closeness, in which sexuality (and the fact that they are both girls) plays only a small part. The dialogue rushes forth like a spring or waterfall that cannot be stopped, characteristic of many people of their age group. Such alacrity of communication, fired by physical attraction and excitement, and with a trust that has not been scrutinised too closely, perhaps accurately conveys the way many teenagers 'fall in love'. Whatever our prejudices, it does have a poetic beauty and easily overcomes any objection to the unmistakeable lesbianism (which, however, would be shocking to the community where the story is set).

Having toyed with our emotional tolerance thus far, the film then presents a more dangerous challenge. Kiki and Alex discuss the purity of an important novella by Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand (which sadly many in the audience will not be familiar with). The eponymous Rene of the novella in point is a romantic figure whose sister joins a convent to overcome her incestuous love for him. The story is discussed when Alex presses Kiki about the feelings of her brother Sandu, who has become increasingly disruptive to their relationship. It asks us how far we can use the purity of lyrical attachment to justify that which we feel is wrong. "I like their recklessness, the irresponsible way in which they justify their sexual impulses by finding a correspondent for them in the changes of nature," may sound like waffle, but accurately depicts the romantic self-deception in which the girls are perhaps engaging.

Both girls have been hiding their more serious side, Alex subduing her desire to study and Kiki skilfully disguising her emotional instability. The imagery makes an almost imperceptible shift, showing the disparity that is appearing between their heady ideals and the intrusion of darker elements. "You have a sleepy smell, like when you wake up in the morning and you've been dreaming too long."

Love Sick has much more depth than is immediately apparent. Its flaws are that it is too deceptively flippant and the speed at which it progresses leaves little time to digest the ideas that are so cleverly balanced. The ending comes so swiftly that we may very easily feel cheated at first, as if some greater resolution were in order. "...we had no idea what had happened, but that it was something rather beautiful." This is a film that deserves greater examination than it seems to ask us for, but such examination may be well worth the effort.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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Two young women struggle to balance true love with responsibility.
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Director: Tudor Giurgiu

Writer: Cecilia Stefanescu

Starring: Maria Popistasu, Ioana Barbu, Tudor Chirila, Catalina Murgea, Mircea Diaconu, Virginia Mirea, Tora Vasilescu, Valentin Popescu

Year: 2006

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: Romania


EIFF 2006

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