Alma Har'el is behind a poignant, artfully executed documentary about our desire to connect
Beguiling and insightful, the second feature from award-winning music video and film director Alma Har'el (Bombay Beach) is an intriguing non-fiction essay on the shape-shifting nature of love. Blending traditional fly-on-the-wall camerawork with dramatised reconstructions of past and possible future events, LoveTrue follows three individuals from different corners of America as they ponder the most formative relationships in their lives.
In the Alaskan wilds, stripper Blake believes she has finally found her soulmate in physically disabled Joel, whose love is helping her overcome childhood difficulties. In sun-soaked Hawaii, free-spirited surfer Coconut Willie must rethink his role as a father when he discovers his young son is not biologically his. And in the cacophonous hustle of New York City, devout Christian singer Victory finds time and space to explore her bond with her father John, whose philandering forced her mother to leave.
As indicated by the film's subverted title, this is not a celebration of the impossible fairytale love to which Hollywood would have us all aspire, but the imperfect, messy and often painful ties that bind us. While these stories may be far from unique, Har'el's approach gives them resonant dramatic impact. The sequences in which actors portray the protagonists (or key players) at various stages in their lives are both visually hypnotic – thanks in large part to Har'el and Theo Stanley's dreamlike cinematography – and psychologically sharp. Feelings and revelations are underscored and muddied by scenes in which the real-life players and the actors meet and discuss events; the message being that love is never straightforward.
Bookended by Willie's drawling narration, LoveTrue is not only a poignant exploration of our universal desire to connect, but a film which expertly, and artfully, challenges the documentary form. While Shia LaBeouf's executive producer credit may attract audiences, they will ultimately find themselves seduced by Har'el's exhilarating vision.
Selected release from Fri 10 Feb.