Tribeca Review: brilliantlove
brilliantlove has a title that's all lowercase and all one word, so you know it's artsy from the beginning. Read the synopsis and you can probably learn that it's also a very earnest movie about young people in love and having lots of sex. Unless you're 14 years old, that should be all the information you need to stay very, very far away.
The second film by English director Ashley Horner, who is really old enough to know better, brilliantlove is about Noon (Nancy Trotter Landy) and Manchester (Liam Browne), two young twentysomethings who call themselves artists but don't seem to be making any art that anyone else has seen. Noon, because she's a movie character and not a real person, is an aspiring taxidermist, while Manchester takes a lot of photos of Noon while she's naked, or even while having sex with him. Did I mention these kids have a lot of sex? Indoors, outdoors, while eating popsicles, while telling stories about past sexual conquests... for about an hour we watch Noon and Manchester either doing it or blatantly thinking about doing it. It's all filmed very nicely, and it's plenty titillating, but what's the point exactly?
The movie stumbles its way into a plot when wealthy pornographer Franny (Michael Hodgson) sees some of Manchester's photos and gets dollars signs in his eyes. WIthout even mentioning the whole thing to Noon, Manchester whisks them both away to Franny's gigantic rural estate, where the two waste no time doing it in Franny's guest room and settling in, oddly comfortably, with these total strangers. For about half an hour the film develops into a stilted but somewhat persuasive parody of the art world, as Manchester's photographs bring him so much success that he's inspired to pee on the floor of an art gallery. But just when it seems like Manchester has finally acted like enough of a twat for Noon to leave him for good, it's time for the climactic final reunion and re-declaration of true love, which screenwriter Sean Conway and Horner seem to genuinely believe exists between these two self-obsessed nitwits.
brilliantlove is intended as a film absent of cynicism and irony, in which the pure expression of love-- that's sex, and lots of it-- and the desire for higher art overcome everyday concerns. But what it seems totally unaware of is that onscreen sex, even sex as hardcore as what they're showing us, has been done in the movies before, and as a general rule is pretty boring to watch. We all know what sex looks like-- it's one of those human things that connects most adults-- and to be worth watching in a movie, the sex needs to reveal something about the characters or do something other that titillate. Unfortunately Noon and Manchester aren't characters but some idealistic conception of Artists with a Capital A, meaning the sex scene are about as dull as you imagine their art would be. The sex is intended to show the deep love between them, it's hard to see anything other than two desperate kids humping each other for dear life. I really don't know what to make of the frequent masturbation scenes, which take place in all kinds of inappropriate locations and situations, and seem merely to drive home the fact that these two are horny, not in love.
Call me a prude, call me a cynic, but I was so not convinced by this film's arguments about true love and eroticism and whatever other pie-eyed nonsense they were throwing at me. It feels kind of like your 20-year-old cousin coming up to you and gushing about her new guy, convinced no one has ever been in love like she has. Who's going to break it to brilliantlove that the movies had all of this pretty well covered already?
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