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Sundance Review: Death in Love

Ugh. Where to begin with the list of atrocities the Sundance film Death in Love manages to accomplish? Preposterously wooden dialog? Check. Gratuitously violent sexuality? Check. Quick cuts to the grotesque torturing and dismembering of concentration camp detainees meant to "shock" the audience? Check. A collection of gratingly obnoxious characters, none of whom gives us any reason whatsoever to sympathize with them? Check, check, check.


This film may as well be titled Psychopathic Murderers, Mating. About a third of the way into the movie I was mentally pleading for it to have something — anything — redeeming about it. Then the sole redeeming factor entered the film, and that factor's name is Adam Brody. And sure, I like him well enough, but when Adam Brody is the one thing about a movie that doesn't entirely make you want to vomit, it's a bad sign. It's time to walk away.

The movie starts and ends with shrill, anguished screaming. Not just a few shrieks but the kind of prolonged screaming that makes you want to kill someone, just to make it stop. There's then a way-too-long montage set to music that alternates between images of various women having sex with a man and these same women's bodies being ripped apart or otherwise mangled in experiments. Awesome, right? Yeah, read more.

The plot is structured around the story of the Mother (Jacqueline Bisset), a woman who saves her own life by seducing the Nazi doctor performing experiments on concentration camp detainees. After becoming his pet, she generally turns into a bad person, eventually marries an American and moves to New York where she raises two boys and terrorizes them into having supremely messed up issues with women. The story then mainly follows one of the sons (played with a lot of whining by Josh Lucas) — his struggle to come to terms with being 40, his work problems, his relationship issues, his hatred toward his mother, and so on and on.


None of it matters, though. There's little point to this steaming pile of mess. It's bleak, it's violent, it's gratuitously disgusting, and for what? There's no real moral. We hate each and every one of these cruel, self-absorbed characters (with the possible exception of the other son, an emotionally stunted yet gifted pianist played by Lukas Haas), and when there's no reason to care about the characters in a movie, it feels a lot like a waste of time. The story's heart is coldly and apathetically cut out, and we're forced to watch and call it "art."

Bottom line: There is no need to ever see this movie.

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