Love is All
Delightful, slightly rudderless documentary from the great Kim Longinotto
The noted British documentarian Kim Longinotto – director of Divorce Iranian Style and Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go, among many others – oversees one of those whirling carousels of dusted-off archive footage that serve to remind us what a busy and interesting place the past was, and how much we miss out on if we stick primarily to the movies, artworks and cat videos of our own era.
Footage has been sourced from the British Film Institute and the Yorkshire Film Archive, among other collections. Primarily, it shows ordinary British people at work and play. There are also some clips from movies, most of them little-known – such as Piccadilly, a 1929 silent drama featuring the Chinese-American star Anna May Wong – and some that are more recognisable, like Stephen Frears’ My Beautiful Laundrette. The soundtrack comes courtesy of Richard Hawley, who selected fitting songs from his back catalogue.
Romantic love is the loose connecting theme, with a particular bent towards changing attitudes to gay and interracial relationships. Yet some of the most compelling chunks of footage – a 1920s female football team at practice; a 1950s seaside celebrity lookalike competition; people at war and towns wrecked by bombing; a little girl of African heritage being crowned May Queen in an otherwise all-white English village in the 1940s – represent a broader take on social connectedness.
There is a wealth of delightfulness here, even if the material can seem a bit random. Like many of these archive projects, however, this frustrates slightly by not identifying what you’re watching while you watch it; if particularly stirred by something, you have to wait until the very end and try and figure out what it was from a long list. Fans of Hawley, meanwhile, will revel in his particular brand of pleasant lugubriousness, while the less convinced may find the score a rather large helping of one voice and style.
Selected release from Fri 13 Feb.