A contemplative throwback to a different kind of science fiction is the impressive debut feature from William Eubank and producers Angels & Airwaves, musing on the effects of complete isolation.
From the puzzle piece opening in the US Civil War opening to the stunning and thought-provoking conclusion, Love is a film that consciously pushes against the current trends of frenetic space-born storytelling. With his first feature, Eubank offers not just a missive on the implications of space travel and isolation on the human mind, but on the very nature of humanity itself. Drawing on his background as a cinematographer, his film is visually stunning, using an unspoken poetry in the same vein of Sunshine, Moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris to convey the complex relationship between man, machine and the vacuum that surrounds them all.
In a prologue that seems designed to immediately displace the viewer, Lt. Lee Briggs (Bradley Horn) is chosen as a man of many lives to investigate a mysterious object that has been found in a nearby canyon. We don’t see what it is initially, but we can assume what it might be. Much later in Earth’s history, two centuries in fact, Lee Miller (Gunner Wright) is the first person the US has sent into space in over twenty years. While his mission is unclear, it appears to largely involve sending telemetry and figures back to Earth. As communication with base becomes unpredictable, he is eventually told that ”something is going on here.” Miller’s isolation is complete, but that is only the beginning of his journey.
The beauty of Love is that it can be examined from so many different perspectives. On the surface, it can be seen as a single character study of a man alone on a space station. Yet this is no mere rehash of the aforementioned Moon, as it never offers any easy answers, couching its story as a mystery wrapped in an enigma of a riddle. Splicing in footage of various people recounting their favourite things and ideas on love, along with tales from a diary that Miller finds on board, the meaning is open to any number of interpretations. The ambiguity of the narrative is almost irrelevant though, as this is designed to provoke the mind and to challenge traditional notions of linear storytelling. That we don’t know exactly how long Miller has been on the station only adds more importance to the other sensory inputs that float through his mind.
Eubank is credited not only as director, but as cinematographer and production designer as well, and this goes a long way towards explaining the singular and holistic vibe that pervades Love. Drawing on a number of influences, one gets the sense that the accurately hand-made set is paradoxically a structure of happenstance and very deliberate placement. Produced and scored by Angels & Airwaves, a project of led by Blink-182 guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge, it’s also a massively ambitious artwork, exploring the fragility of life through the combination of music, memory, storytelling and visual triggers. Love may look like any number of its influential predecessors, but is not quite like any other film. It is nothing short of being a tribute to humanity.
Love is released in Australia on 30 August 2012 from Regency.