A look at the love of two women over a period of time is intimately and alluringly portrayed by filmmaker So Yong Kim and expertly played by Riley Keogh and Jenna Malone.
Keogh plays Sarah, a young mother whose husband has become away from home with work more than he is with her and their 3-year-old daughter Jessie. Sarah is young and had Jessie at 21. She should be having the time of her life instead she is, to all extents, a single mother. The opening scene is one of affection between the mother and daughter and we clearly see the love and effort Sarah is putting into motherhood but we also start to see the signs of just how lonely and depressed she is. The arrival of her friend Mindy opens up all the wounds Sarah is trying to disguise whilst also giving her a much needed breathe of fresh air. Mindy is single, living the life Sarah desperately yearns for (or thinks she does, careful what you wish for Sarah). But she is kind and treats Saran with tenderness she hasn’t had for some time (the couple have not been having sex she confesses quickly to Mindy). The girls get drunk and have a game of truth and dare, Sarah gets sick and affection turns to something else. So Young chooses not to show any of their relations at any point in the film, that I found an interesting choice, there is of course something to be said for the imagination. A scene at the fair is where Keogh and Malone show us what they are made of, So Young is not shy of holding a shot tight on their faces as we see the relief, gratitude and love pouring out of Sarah and the flirtation and encouragement from Mindy. No words just looks and then freedom as the girls scream and shake their hair on a fairground wheel to the delight of Jessie. It is a wonderful slice of filmmaking.
An awkward moment causes Mindy to cut the trip short and off she goes leaving Sarah utterly confused. Then we cut to three years later and Sarah is attending Mindy’s wedding. It appears the girls have not actually spoken since the misunderstanding and the awkwardness is palpable.
As the mother of a daughter the same age as Jessie, I must say I found the depiction of the overworked stressed out mother that Keogh and So Young show here to be so accurate I almost cried. Keogh shows you her vulnerability and closeness to cracking with such subtlety and reality it’s really something. Jena approaches the bad girl role with gusto but it’s hard to see who Mindy really is. I would have liked more of a sense of her.
My main issue with Lovesong, for a film that is so intense and intimate I didn’t get a real sense of the two female protagonists. More so with Sarah as we spend more time with her although perhaps that is the point, that Mindy is a free spirit, an enigma and a riddle that Sarah doesn’t end up solving. The scenes with Keogh and Jessie aged three are so natural – that little girl deserves a medal although maybe it’s So Young for directing her. It just felt like I would have liked a bit more, the film comes in at 86 mins and could have done with another ten.
Lovesong is a bittersweet portrayal of love and what it means and what the reality of life is. Low key and ambiguous, exactly how love sometimes is.
N.B a special mention to mega director and my mate Cary Fukanaga who does a PHENOMENAL job as the grumpy boyfriend on Skype. Oscar worthy.