Lovesong (2016)

Director: So Yong Kim
Writer: So Yong Kim, Bradley Rust Gray
Cast: Riley KeoughJena MaloneCary Joji FukunagaJessie Ok GraySky Ok GrayNeal HuffRyan EggoldMarshall ChapmanBrooklyn DeckerAmy SeimetzRosanna Arquette
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 9.6.2017

Sarah (Riley Keough) has been best friends with Mindy (Jena Malone) since about forever. But with adulthood, their ways have separated a bit. Sarah is married to Dean (Cary Joji Fukunaga) and has a small daughter Jessie (Jessie Ok Gray), while Mindy lives a wilder life. But when Sarah and Mindy reconnect and go on an impromptu road trip, their relationship starts to change.

I enjoyed Lovesong the longest time, despite a couple of issues here and there. But the ending left me disappointed and a little bitter.


There’s a gentle thread of pain running through the film, rooted in the performances of Malone and Keough, especially Keough. This sense of fragility heightens the strength and impact of the story, and it creates an emotional weight that feels that much heavier because it is so soft.

And yet the film manages to not feel entirely sad – until the very end. I’ve had enough of queer love stories that end badly. You spend the film establishing that two characters are right for each other and at the end, you don’t have the decency to let them end up together? That’s frustrating no matter the sexual orientation of the people involved, but it’s way too common with queer characters.

There was also one moment in the film where Sarah – married to an Asian-American (I don’t recall if it was specified any more than that in the film, but I don’t think so) – jokes that of course, her husband does weird stuff in bed, he’s Asian. And holy shit, that’s simply racist and nothing else. I don’t know if it was meant to be a comment that even when white people are married to people of color, they continue to say racist shit, but since there was nobody there who made a counterpoint and the situation was played as a sweet bonding moment, that (benevolent) reading didn’t work out for me and pretty much only entered my mind because Kim herself is Korean(-American).

Nevertheless, I enjoyed most of the film and if you’re able to ignore the things I pointed out, I can imagine that you’ll fall into it more than I did.

Summarizing: Worth giving it a try, although not everything about it works.

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