Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Love (2011)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Warning:  I’m going to give away major details of the movie.  If you’re not into spoilers, don’t read this review before watching the movie.

I remember reading about 2001: A Space Odyssey that Stanley Kubrick deliberately made the movie just a little confusing.  He felt that if everything was obvious, he would have failed as a director.  I get the impression that William Eubank, who was both writer and director, was trying to do the same thing with Love.  I can follow the story, but I’m not sure if I totally understand it or ever will.

The Netflix synopsis said that an astronaut, Captain Lee Miller, is left alone on the International Space Station and subsequently finds a way to use it for time travel.  I thought it to be interesting, but it’s inaccurate.  I spent the entire movie waiting for him to find some sort of magical portal.  This never happens.

The movie starts at the tail end of the American Civil War.  Captain Lee Briggs is being sent to investigate some mysterious thing that fell from the sky.  The regiment he’s with is pretty much doomed, but it’s decided that there should be at least one survivor.  He’s told to keep a journal of his trip to see this thing for posterity.

It then cuts to the International Space Station where Miller is fixing the station and talking to people on the ground.  He gets a message that he’s now an uncle.  (His brother promises to send pictures if the bureaucracy will allow it.)  Captain Miller is alone, but keeps himself busy by doing his job and exercising.  The ISS has not been used for 20 years, so there’s a lot of fixing up to do.

One day, Miller gets a message that ground control needs to make sure that the ISS will stay in orbit even if it misses it’s next few check-ins.  This worries Miller, especially when ground control stops answering him.  At first, he thinks it’s some sort of stress test to see how long he can go without any human contact at all, but this theory is busted when we see flashes of light on the ground followed by the lights going out…permanently.

Miller has to find ways to find ways to entertain himself, like playing cards, continuing to fix stuff and talking to pictures of the station’s former occupants.  He eventually stops shaving and starts experiencing what I assume are hallucinations.  Here’s what gets me.  We learn that he lost contact on July 7, 2039.  He writes a letter to whoever might find him, stating that he’s been alone for six years.  How do you survive for six years?

Even if we assume that his last delivery was July 6th, people weren’t meant to stay in space for that long of a period.  It looks like the have artificial gravity on the station, which I can forgive.  (I guess we’re supposed to assume it was put in at some point before Miller went up there.  I think someone was just too lazy to come up with a weightlessness effect.)  Even if the effects of zero gravity aren’t an issue, food expires after a while.  There’s no way he could have enough food and water to last the entire six years.

We do eventually get to an ending similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey.  This is one of those cases where you have to see it to try to understand it.  I was left wondering what anything had to do with anything else.   I’d love to meet someone else who has seen it just so I could talk about it.  It would be nice to have someone try to explain it, but I don’t think I’d really be able to buy it.  At the very least, it would be nice to know that someone else was confused by it.  (I also don’t really get the title.  I understand that the basic message is that no man can exist in isolation, but why just love?  Don’t we need all types of contact?)

This is proof that a big budget just makes it look shiny.  The production values are great.  The acting is great.  It’s just that the story comes across as somewhat incoherent.  We have several short interviews throughout the movie from people that don’t seem to tie in to the story.  Other than Miller finding Briggs’s journal, even those two characters don’t seem to have any connection.  Even that seemed forced, as there’s no explanation of how the journal got onto the ISS.

I can see a lot of people turning the movie off quickly.  I wouldn’t recommend watching it with a friend, as you might not want to be pressured into watching the whole thing for their sake.  (If three people got together to watch this movie, I could see one staring out a window for most of the movie’s 84 minutes.)  I would not recommend buying the movie.  Instead, see if you can get it streaming.  I was able to get it through Netflix.  If not, maybe try getting it from the library.  It’s bad enough losing 84 minutes for some, but I don’t want you to have to spend money on it.

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