ninth symphony films - movie reviews

Love & Suicide (2006)

DIRECTOR  -  lisa france

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  90 minutes

RELEASED  -  not applicable

DISTRIBUTOR  -  moro productions

OFFICIAL SITE  -  love & suicide

love & suicide - a shot from the film


Coming Soon.

a suicidal man spends the last day he plans to live with an american tourist and a cuban taxi driver.

shot in cuba by americans despite a travel embargo barring americans from travel to the country.


picture from love & suicide

picture from love & suicide

picture from love & suicide

picture from love & suicide


two out of four possible stars

Garnering much of its acclaim on the strength of its filming locations, Love & Suicide bears the mark of a zealous cast and crew, but falters most in the casting of its characters. While the budget of the film might have prevented those in charge of casting the film from tossing their net wide enough to catch an impressive cast, appearing in an independent film with no budget ranks highly with many highly paid movie stars' public relations staff. Of course, who knows how many complete-unknowns could have also auditioned for the roles and given any big budget actor a run for his money.

And while it is unclear just how many actors and actresses were interviewed for the major roles in the film, one thing will be abundantly clear to any viewer: Daisy McCrackin doesn't belong anywhere near the lenses of a movie camera. It is her performance, combined with a few other, much more minor gaffs, which are more apt to make the audience cringe more than fall in love with the story. And based on the limited, enthusiastic marketing for the film, the filmmakers seem to want their audience to form a great affinity for the characters depicted in this film. But with McCrackin stumbling blindly all over the frame in most of her scenes, it's rather difficult to lose one's self in the narrative.

Concerning a depressed man who decides to spend his last day on the planet with a yappy American woman visiting Cuba, lead actor Kamar De Los Reyes fairs much better in his role, though his performance is not one of continuity. While it's expected a character will follow an "arc" over the course of a film and find his emotions and/or circumstances changed by the time the closing credits roll, De Los Reyes's performance mirrors that of McCrackin's in that he's not always "in" character to a degree that makes his character's emotions believable. During the more emotional scenes of the film, one might think his tears that of the crocodile variety since he seems to be trying harder than should be necessary to bring forth the volatile emotions of a suicidal man.

But the character's hyper existence and De Los Reyes's performance are greatly hampered by a sequence near the beginning of the film where his character, "Tomas," spends a few minutes hanging over a windowsill in "drunken manic suicide mode." We've witnessed this type of scene in countless movies before. Robin Wright Penn accomplished the feat much more realistically in Forrest Gump to the driving tune "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. And before you protest that Gump boasted a budget many times more than that of Love & Suicide, the fact remains that the filmmakers did not create an innovative "I'm Gonna Kill Myself" scene. Furthermore, the scene, like many in the film, seems to trod on a few minutes longer than necessary.

As if ignoring the advice of the basic filmmaking tenant, "start after the beginning and leave before the end," each scene in the film is a little bloated, a little long. And this is significant given the film's tidy ninety minute running time. But perhaps the filmmakers realized only after significant hours of film had been printed that their lead actress was very wrongly cast in her role and were forced to chop out of their film any visual clues as to her memory. Indeed, near the end of the film, after Tomas and "Nina" (McCrackin's character), spend a night in her hotel room, she drops out of the film completely and the remaining scenes concern only Tomas and "Alberto" (played by Luis Moro, who is also the co-screenwriter and producer).

If there is any actor in the film who deserves recognition for his abilities rather than the less than flattering comments listed above, that actor would be Moro, whose dedication to making this film is clear from his performance and his enthusiasm outside the film during communication with press and audiences. Though his character's inner-workings are not too deeply investigated, Moro's performance is both relaxed and intense and he is a credit in front of the camera.

Where the film succeeds even more is through its photography. Director of photography Demian Lichtenstein employs an impressive number of hand-held shots and while this might speak of the film's limited budget, the style is appropriate for the film. The guerilla camera techniques also display Cuba's famous Havana to a very deep and vivid extent and the physical location is certainly as important a figure as are the human characters. Though the editing of the film for plotting purposes could have been tighter, the visuals of the film leave the viewer wanting to see more of the island as the filmmakers have created a video postcard of Cuba.

Leaving at the door one's political sensibilities and focusing instead on the mechanics, performances, and artistry of the film, Love & Suicide will not please most viewers on the strength of its filmmaking. There are instances of dialogue which just beg to be tossed on the cutting room floor, though some of the more insipid exchanges might have been alleviated by a more appropriate cast. It might have been prudent to leave Daisy McCrackin out of the film entirely, focusing instead entirely on the short friendship between the tourist Tomas and his cab driver, Alberto. The film is a fine effort in the realm of independent filmmaking, but in their next venture, attention to casting should be of paramount significance.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs moro productions 2006
home | archive | ratings | links | photographs | about | contact