Artists have mused about love and longing for as long as there have been hearts to be broken, which means that it’s tough to find something new to say on the subject.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that people are going to stop trying. Stephen Keep Mills, the writer, director and star of “Love is Not Love,” takes a swing at unraveling the mysteries of the heart and while the results aren’t as profound as perhaps he had hoped, the process is intriguing enough to hold your interest all the way though.
Mills plays Frank, an older gentleman who becomes smitten with a professional and volatile seductress in Reyna (Alejandra Gollas). But when Frank’s quasi-obsessive relationship with Reyna reaches a head, he has to go back and confront the realities of his tense 30-year-marriage to Paula (Louise Martin).
Mills couches the story in the backdrop of the classic tale of Tristan and Isolde where the hero is torn between passionate romance and a comfortable marriage.
What is interesting here is that we typically see someone much younger in Frank’s predicament of deciding which woman to choose, but that said, Frank also seems completely devoid of any of the wisdom of navigating interpersonal relationships a person typically acquires in the autumn of their life.
Mills attempts to frame this love triangle as artfully as possible, filming entirely in black-and-white, intercutting commentary from a narrator (Tonya Cornelisse) with fantasy sequences sprinkled in for good measure. Mills takes some big swings here, and while he doesn’t really have the polished skill set to pull it off, props to the guy for writing and directing his first feature well after his 70th birthday.
Even though “Love is Not Love” feels a little overwrought and amateurish around the edges, the heart of the film stays true to the affairs of the heart and while Mills may not have any answers to the big questions he poses, he does make us feel that they are at least questions worth asking.
“Love is Not Love” is not rated but features language, adult themes, sexuality, and brief nudity.