TADFF09: Must Love Death
Norman's getting over a difficult relationship breakup when he meets Jennifer, actually she meets him - with her car - and falls in love all over again. But due to an unfortunate misunderstanding he leaves the city heartbroken and runs to the country to join three other people in a joint suicide. Thing is, the others aren't really planning to kill themselves. They just like to watch. And film. And torture. Now they just have to wait for Norman to die, ideally without interruptions.
As the film world messes about with the idea of genre mashing there have been few hits and more misses. The creative team, and I am using the word creative loosely here, behind Must Love Death decided to go with Romantic Comedy and Torture Porn, leaning heavily on the Romantic Comedy aspect of the film, told through a series of flashbacks for most of the film. So much so you cannot help but notice that Norman's appearance is very similar to that of Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally. Jennifer is no Meg Ryan but tall and leggy blondes with big smiles aren't a bad thing either. She is the Julia Roberts. Think of Must Love Death coming across like an understudy of Richard Curtis has been strapped down to a chair and had nails driven through their wrists.
Must Love Death slogs through its RomCom moments almost to the point of stalling. More time is spent on the RomCom and the annoying supporting cast than the TP which is a big of a drag because the two hardly seem like they fit together despite having the same actors in the scenes. Though the two brothers who perform their act of torture in front of their 'studio' audience are above par. Not original but entertaining nonetheless. They are far more interesting characters, stuck in the horror part of this film than the RomCom part. It is a real shame because despite the pacing and energy problems in the film the humor is quite good and there are a lot of laughs. And though torture porn is so 2005 there are still some cringe worthy episodes of violence. The only thing more cringe worthy than the violence and the torture is how long it took that county police officer to turn his car around. Am I right? Longest. Three point turn. Ever.
It's puzzling that a German production would go so far out of its way to make a non german movie set it in New York and New Jersey with English speaking actors. One could go as far as to suggest that the intentions of the production team behind the film was looking for international sales when conceiving this project. What they end up losing is any identity or cultural nuances that may have made this film stand out from everything else. Or, perhaps this is all one elaborate joke against America, taking the piss out of their RomComs and Horror films. Screw identity, we're going to mock you!
Irregardless of their intentions the simple truth is this. While other European countries are wading in the shallow end of the horror pool, for the first time, and offering up their own interpretations of slasher and zombie and other horror films Germany takes a step backwards and has slipped on the shower room floor!
Must Love Death is not without its charm but it certainly doesn't have any magic.