Lovecut (2020)

Director: Iliana Estañol, Johanna Lietha
Writer: Iliana Estañol, Johanna Lietha
Cast: Kerem Abdelhamed, Sara Toth, Valentin Gruber, Melissa Irowa, Max Kuess, Lou von Schrader, Raphaela Gasper, Marcel Mohab, Doris Schretzmayer
Seen on: 7.9.2020

Content Note: ableism

Jakob (Kerem Abdelhamed) and Anna (Sara Toth) have been a couple for a while and enjoy a rather adventurous sex life. Anna desperately wants to move out from home, but she needs to make money for that. So the two decide to try amateur porn. Meanwhile Jakob’s brother Alex (Valentin Gruber) is dating Momo (Melissa Irowa) – online, because he doesn’t dare telling Momo that he uses a wheelchair. Momo’s friend Luka (Lou von Schrader) also uses online dating sites and meets Ben (Max Kuess). Ben is very much into her, but Luka doesn’t want anything to do with feelings.

Lovecut is an interesting look at sex (and a little bit love) for teenagers in times of online dating and easily available (opportunities for) sex work. It manages to be non-judgmental for the most part, which is nice, but it does suffer a little from the inexperience of both the cast and the writing-directing team.

The film poster with three film stills: Ben (Max Kuess) floating in the danube; Anna (Sara Toth) posing for the camera; and Luka (Lou von Schrader) and Ben looking at each other while lying next to sleeping Momo (Melissa Irowa).

Lovecut is the debut feature for the two directors as well as the main cast. Given that circumstance, it is entirely understandable that the performances aren’t all that strong – although I’d say that they really found good and talented actors. But even though we can easily explain that the performances are sometimes a little halting and slightly wooden, the overall effect is unfortunately thus that it weakens the film somewhat.

But that doesn’t mean that the film isn’t any good and it definitely doesn’t mean that Estañol and Lietha aren’t worth keeping an eye on. Quite to the contrary: even though their inexperience is obvious sometimes, there is also a lot in the film already that is really good. It all promises to much for their sophomore film.

Luka (Lou von Schrader) and Ben (Max Kuess) looking at each other while lying next to sleeping Momo (Melissa Irowa).

They obviously tried to give us a range of stories in the film. That they included a storyline about a disabled boy was really nice, although I did struggle slightly with how it was executed: instead of showing that ableism is out there in the world, it all boils down to Alex’ insecurities. In the end, his problems are only there because he isn’t self-confident enough, not because he actually encounters any ableism – as if disabled people just imagined the discrimination they face. (On a sidenote: I don’t know if Gruber is actually a wheelchair user himself or if he cripped up for the role, which is another angle to consider in this obviously well-meant storyline.)

Mostly I liked the way they went about the film, though. It appears that they did a lot of research and talked to a lot of teenagers and they managed to distill stories from that research that feel natural and non-judgmental (for the most part. Parents definitely get judged here), which I think is the fitting approach for a film like this.

The ending of the film is slightly depressing and very open – too open for my taste, in fact, but that just goes to show that I was very much engaged with the characters and their fate. And that’s definitely a good sign.

Alex (Valentin Gruber) during the visit with sex worker Ariane (Raphaela Gasper).

Summarizing: Worth seeing, even if it isn’t quite as polished as it should be.

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