Love, On Netflix, Is An Exercise In Style Over Substance, Film Companion

Khalid Rahman‘s Love opens with a pregnancy test. So in the very first scene, a drop of yellow liquid (you know what it is) drops onto the stick. Just a few minutes further into the film and the frames are colour-coded with yellow. If you are a bit grossed out by this sentence, that’s okay, because Love intends to disgust you – though not with this colour. It’s just another way of conveying that things will go to shit, meaning get ready for some weird mind-bending twists. When I wrote the previous sentence, a part of my brain thought it looked cool, which is something Rahman may have felt while writing the screenplay with Noufal Abdullah. Unfortunately, the “coolness” is limited to the writing. What you get on screen does not hold up for a long time.

For the majority of us, the concept of love has been associated with the rhythm of the heart. It beats strenuously in love and aggressively in pain. The common attribute in the two cases is that it continues carrying out its expected function: to pump blood into the body. No wonder the title appears in red after blood is smeared on a frame. This also entails the precariousness in romance: insecurity, abuse, and aspersion. If the head is the other half of the tail, hell of heaven, day of night, and good of bad, then love is completed by hate. Romance, in general, reaches the happily-ever-after by treading on formulaic difficulties (it usually involves impressing the family). The real hurdle springs after the marriage. You hit a stage where something as minuscule as washing plates becomes a grand romantic gesture for your spouse. It’s easy to ignite that candle of romance, but it’s tough to keep it from extinguishing.

Also read: Baradwaj Rangan reviews Love

Deepthi (Rajisha Vijayan) and Anoop (Shine Tom Chacko) are in their fighting phase. You don’t need to bother yourself with details. Whatever it may be, its roots originate from Anoop being a man, i.e., a pestilential male with a bag full of ego and deceit. He sees nothing wrong in sleeping with another woman but is filled with rage from suspicions around his wife’s affair. As far as he is concerned, his sex gives him the right to unleash domestic violence on his missus. But even a monster like him has a good side. After a fatal incident, Love uses Anoop’s two friends to lay out his inner turmoil. One favours suicide while the other desires to kill his wife. It may not be a unique spin, but it’s interesting nevertheless. The problem arises when these “thoughts” start to get repetitive. After some time, Love ends up chasing its own tail.

Love‘s fear of alienating the mass audience results in the makers handing us its psychological concepts on a plate. The line separating fiction from reality is highlighted with strain. This is the type of film where stick figures are fed with dialogues from the screenplay to vent the thoughts of the writers. Love is fascinated with asking questions like, “What would happen if we surrender to our ugliest desires?” The answer, which is the ending, is passionless. Rahman doesn’t pull it off with finesse. There is a zany moment where, after a murder, a video tutorial is played demonstrating the steps to dispose of a body. As far as I remember, the methods are not followed, and the video is left midway, limiting it to a just-for-fun moment. In the long run, it remains nothing more than a grandiloquent exercise. It will not be a stretch to say that Love favours style over substance or passivity over vehemence.

Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.

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