“How the hell did I end up alone,” blurts out Matthew’s single mom, sipping a glass of red wine while Alan Zweig asks probing, off-camera questions and records the replies for this chronicle of faint-hope despair. But, he is allowed and trusted—for much of the film is his own solitary trail of failed relationships, which are shared through his engaging visage in an oval mirror (all the better to “lose” the camera). He literally and figuratively reflects on the fine art of finding, committing, and continuing to love another human being.
His candid subjects, mostly, are searching with various degrees of intensity for Mr. Right. Sonya’s quest for Ms. Dyke begins promisingly with a chance encounter at a womyn’s music festival. That soon boils up to a promise to relocate to San Francisco (her intended has a five-year-old so is unwilling to move north to Vancouver). But before you can say “infatuation ‘R’ us,” (their first meeting, reportedly, contained nothing physical …) the union unexpectedly implodes: “She turns out to be a total fucking wacko!”
The male point of view remains the exclusive domain of the filmmaker. As Zweig’s self-described dating disasters mount, he wonders how to improve his looks, if his humongous music/taped-TV collection is a detriment to bliss or if —until his mother’s passing a few weeks into the shoot—his tireless attempts to rescue women rather than let them save him from himself are at the root of his loneliness. Still, his unkempt digs might send a few running as could the near-constant cigarettes—both habits limit the field of possibilities or perhaps, like some of his subjects, does he—deep down—really prefer to exist seul so, accordingly, lives his days in a manner that completes the self-fulfilling prophecy of rejection: sooner or later.
Much advice is dispensed: when on the prowl and in search of ‘intimacy (code for, at least, compassion and gentle touching or, at most, extra-hot fucking—even if that’s from a distant cousin), the fairer sex should:
- Stop looking—adopt a “don’t-care” attitude;
- “get out there,” er, full bore;
- “get out there,” but tone down the lust/hormones because guys can then tell if you’re looking.
What’s a girl to do?
Some stay at home, either ashamed that their weekend plans are as empty as Stephen Harper’s foreign policy or delighted to return to an apartment that remains “exactly as I left it in the morning.”
Both Zweig and his coterie of single women surf the net in search of true love but are unable to morph chatroom delight into a second date, much less anything permanent. Their married “happy” and, obviously, lovable friends have either found bliss with the perfect life-mate or lack the courage to abandon unions that are based on fear, loathing and joined-at-the-hip RSP finance.
By journey’s end, Zweig has a smoky, (with an empty carafe of wine lurking in the background) moment of truth: “I give up,” he says. Over a marvellous recap of the shameless women who have just populated his Lovable life, he goes on: “I have to accept that this [yearned-for relationship] didn’t happen [pause], so far.”
The mirrors briefly empty, but Zweig’s visage soon reappears for an encore to offer “I continue to take a chance.” Despite his contradictory vow to quit and move on, the thoughtful director fails to realize that he does have a nurturing, permanent relationship that will endure to the last puff, lovingly reported by his ever-faithful camera’s last frame.
LOVE TO BLACK.
ROLL CREDITS. JWR