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RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
• Behind-the-scenes featurette
New York: city of immigrants…boning, double-crossing and whacking each other.
Sergej Trifunovic, Geno Lechner, Peter Gevisser, Didier Flamand, Mario Padula, Al Naz, Eric Frandsen, Liat Glick, Kerry Rossi.
Vanya’s recent track record as Britney Spears’ career advisor led to a predictable finish…
Told from a multi-angle, Tivo-ed and non-linear version of reality, Love centers on a Serbian hitman in New York, his former Serbian girlfriend, her American cop boyfriend, and a motley list of characters whose stories intersect around a hit gone bad.
Love the movie is as much an enigma as the stories that it tells. Shot for less than a shoestring budget, the film is deftly told by writer/director Vladan Nikolic in a Tarantino-esque fashion, using usually two camera angles for the same scene, which comes in handy as many scenes are rewound and told from different points of view as the story progresses. Not nearly as gimmicky as Time Code, Love nevertheless juggles many storylines, keeping several plates spinning like a Cirque Du Soleil show. The characters all deeply explored, from Vanya (Trifunovic), the protagonist, to Anna (Lechner), his former girlfriend, to even the smallest characters. Nikolic employs a third person narrative to give little bios of each character as they’re introduced, as if he’s reading off their MySpace pages; and I’m still on the fence as to whether or not it’s a cheap tactic or an interesting angle. Nikolic also uses some unique camera work, placing his lenses on cars, on walls, on people and even on guns. It’s like watching a surreal episode of The Real World…through Fear Factor POVs. Considering the budget and shooting schedule, Nikolic manages to paint quite a tapestry of a side of New York you rarely get to see, told by immigrants on the fringe of society no less.
"Hey Vanya, wouldn’t it be funny – hilarious in fact – if, say, I were formerly…oh I don’t know…a dude? Side-splitting, right?"
All that being said, there’s one major drawback, however, and that is that I’m not entirely too sure what the hell’s going on in Love. You know that Vanya, a former Serbian soldier and current hitman is looking to get out of the business, and that he’s summoned for one more job by his boss through an intermediary, a friend of Vanya’s, Jean (Flamand). He goes to the scene and finds the mark, Rivera, already dead from a heart attack, so he takes the briefcase that was handcuffed to him that contains what I’m guessing is nose candy. From there, he just so happens to run into Anna, who is a doctor and is summoned by the hotel receptionist to help Rivera, right when Vanya is trying to make good his departure. Meanwhile, a side hitman, Manny and his driver, Ali, an Italian and Lebanese respectively, show up at the same time and Manny is forced to whack a bunch of people who have the misfortune of seeing him at the wrong time. When Vanya and Anna leave the hotel, they spend the rest of the movie hiding out from Manny and Ali, as well as Dirk (Malloy), Anna’s cop boyfriend who thinks she’s been kidnapped. Of course this all appears to be set in motion by Agent William Hayes (Flamand) of an undisclosed government agency, who was also Vanya’s boss who sent him to do the hit in the first place.
Uncredited cameo by Fabfunk (just north of frame).
The ending is the most maddening thing at all, as Hayes, kidnaps Anna to smoke out Vanya into revealing where he’s hiding the briefcase full of money and the other of drugs. The detail that escapes me however is that the money was Vanya’s payment for doing the job. When he and Dirk, who had just had a knock down, drag out rumble in some garbage over Anna, go to rescue her, there’s a Mexican standoff between them and Hayes, and also Manny (I think as he’s never shown, except in the behind the scenes featurette…). The standoff is repleat with Nikolic’s funky POV camerawork (gun cams no less) and someone is shot. Rewind to show the arrivals and then…cut to credits. HUH? WHA -? So like I said, Love is interesting, but some key details appear to have been left out or glossed over and I’m left scratching my head. One of those details is what happened to the hotel clerk who got caught up in Rivera’s hit. He just seems to have disappeared.
When Cheney went to South Central and said he was a Red-Stater in front of a bunch of Southside Crips, well…
So I have to do something I’ve never done on a review: ask for some clarification. Mr. Nikolic, if you happen to read this review, drop me a line, pal, and please school me on this. ‘Cause I ain’t got a clue. Until then, I have reserve judgment. The journey of Love was interesting, it’s the smack into the brick wall of ambiguity at the end that’s the bitch.
This is a bare-bones DVD, with a 15-minute behind the scenes featurette as the main feature, along with a long and short trailer of the film. There’s no subtitles and the audio can get maddeningly low at times.
Uh, apparently Vanya didn’t think that second caption was so funny…