Meat Loaf once sang “Oh I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that,” and perhaps this sentiment should have been taken into consideration by the characters in Martin Stitt’s Love/Me/Do.
A motivated investment banker, Antonia (Rebecca Calder), and a down-on-his-luck actor, Max (Jack Gordon,) forge a romantic relationship which on the surface looks typical, but is ultimately founded upon tragedy and chaos. As their partnership develops trouble begins to brew, reaching boiling point during the movie’s climatic scenes.
Despite some interesting concepts, Love/Me/Do falls flat, with the focus of a poisonous relationship being too unrealistic to convince the audience to care for the characters. And yes, it is a movie, so realism is something that can be left at the door. But other movies with this focus have excelled in the past, such as Natural Born Killers.
The issue here is that the characters are so loathsome that, after around 20/30 minutes, you honestly don’t care what happens to them. Gordon’s Max is so infuriating in the opening third of the movie, and Antonia doesn’t fare much better, with her bland personality amounting to little of value.
Characterisation improves throughout the course of the movie, and a role-reversal of sorts in the final act makes for more captivating viewing, but by that time it’s too little too late. You develop such a hatred for these characters that, by the time they actually become interesting, there’s too little time to invest in them.
Stitt tries his hardest to evoke emotions and sympathy with certain symbolic and thematic choices, but again these tend to be disappointing. The reference to Shakespeare throughout the film suggests that these characters might reach a tragic end – like a modern day Romeo & Juliet. But this doesn’t play out, leaving you questioning why the focus on Shakespeare was necessary.
Stitt also uses title cards throughout to imply a shift in the narrative. These play out in the processes of reproduction, starting with ‘conception,’ following all three trimesters, and ending with ‘birth.’ These make more sense with a revelation from Antonia, but again they do nothing more than indicate that the film is nearing its end.
However, there is one thematic technique which works out well. Stitt bases the entire movie in Antonia’s apartment, creating an aura of claustrophobia. Combine this with Max’s frustrations of unemployment and Antonia’s tragic life events, and you have the making for greatness. Unfortunately, the character’s don’t hold up to the claustrophobic feel of the apartment, and instead they resort to melodrama which is too hyperbolic to be enjoyable. Their final chaotic action is also so ridiculous and absurd that it concludes the movie on a complete bum note.
Whilst independent cinema like this is always welcome, it’s such a shame to see some obvious talent wasted. Gordon and Calder only hit their strides in the final act, and Stitt’s direction and symbolism is overwhelmed by melodrama and some stupid twists.
Dir: Martin Stitt
Scr: Martin Stitt
Cast: Jack Gordon, Rebecca Calder, Max Wrottesley, Samantha Coughlan
Prd: Ian Prior
DOP: Robin Whenary
Music: Gareth Averill & Rael Jones
Run time: 89 minutes
Love/Me/Do is available on iTunes, Sky Box Office, Amazon and Google now.