He Loves Me *
Starring: Hermes Pittakos, Sanuye Shotoka, Thanos Lekkas
Director: Konstantinos Menelaou
There’s no doubt that Derek Jarman and Gus Van Sant are accomplished auteurs of filmmaking, but when you work through their back catalogue their output seems to pendulum between populist hits and extreme art-house nonsense. There’s no doubt their need to explore cinematically, because this is all part of refining cinematic craft, but does the wider public need to see their experimentations? Probably not. So while I’m not questioning the skill of Greek director Konstantinos Menelaou, do we really need to see his new film He Loves Me, which is definitely a filmmaker exploring his craft? It’s a big resounding “no” from me.
A gay couple (Pittakos & Shotoka) are having problems with their relationship. In an attempt to salvage what they have, they leave the city behind and go to a secluded beach for some concentrated time alone together. Narrated by one (voiced by Lekkas), their story is slowly revealed to us while we watch them frolicking and cavorting in the sun, sea and sand. And that’s pretty much it.
This is a psychological examination of a character played out through a 70 minute monologue. The cinematography is beautiful admittedly, while Menelaou is adept at capturing his subjects at their most attractive within the frame, but after the first five minutes the film’s conventions are already so tiresome that when you realise absolutely nothing is going to change – we’ll never hear the actors speak a word – you resign yourself to another hour in which you’re looking at your watch as much as the screen. The film suffers so badly from Inactivity Syndrome that it almost competes with Jarman’s The Angelic Conversation for the title of “The Most Pretentiously Boring Drivel I Have Ever Seen”.
It’s clearly trying to be desperately philosophical, but the voiceover is about as profound as a symposium on Snapchat filters. It’s also clearly trying to create seriously deep – entrenched even – characterisation, but without actually hearing them speak, there’s only so much time we can suspend our disbelief that this disembodied voice belongs to one of the gambolling sun-kissed nymphs, who look about as intelligent as donkeys trying to solve quadratic equations. The film looks great, but if that’s all you need, you’re probably better off watching a slideshow of Apple wallpapers for your iMac.
OUT ON DVD AND ON DEMAND 12TH FEBRUARY 2019, RELEASED BY TLA RELEASING.
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