I Might Not Have Understood it All, but I Loved It.

Main Cast: Gunner Wright

Director: William Eubank

What’s the worst thing you can imagine? Okay, now multiply that by ten and you may begin to get some sense of the pressure Capt. Lee Miller is living under.

He’s the first person on the International Space Station in 20 years, on a mission to see how functional the place is. He’s alone, but he’s got mission control. That is until their communication is cut off in the middle of a transmission. Lee thinks at first it’s a stress experiment until some time later he receives a recorded message hinting at trouble on earth. After that, there’s only silence. But through the windows he can see the Earth and he can see the lights caused by explosions. Something’s going down back home, while Capt. Lee Miller is stranded hundreds of miles away with no way to get back down, and no one to talk to. For an undetermined length of time.

This is the set-up of the 2011 movie from writer/director William Eubank (produced and scored entirely by the band Angels & Airwaves), Love. The theme here is human connection vs. isolation and how important other people are to the human condition.

To be honest, I’m not even sure I’m smart enough to review this movie. There’s a LOT of symbolic stuff going on, deep emotional stuff that goes right over my head. I was one of those kids who, growing up, used to dream of waking up one day and finding I was the last person on earth. Granted, as a father, that’s a fantasy that’s long since run its course and if it happened today and I woke up to find I was the last person on earth and that I’d never see my kids again, I’d have a mental breakdown. But, not being the most social person and usually finding myself very uncomfortable around other people, a little isolation goes a long way with me. Personally, I dig it.

But then you throw in the “IN SPACE” and we’re talking a whole different nightmare. The whole outer space thing was never my bag anyway, just like the open ocean isn’t my bag. I enjoy solid ground beneath my feet. Hell, what with sinkholes and icy roads, the earth isn’t the most stable surface either, but at least it’s a surface I can stand on. Outer space? No thanks.

So the situation in which Capt. Lee Miller finds himself is one I can’t even begin to consider relating to. To me, what he’s going through is the horror of horrors. Throw in a sudden swarm of grasshoppers invading the station and I’m done.

Instead, what happens is he discovers a diary onboard, written by a soldier during the Civil War, chronicling his trek across the country to seek out a mysterious object he had been told about. The problem is, the diary never says what the object was. So Miller reads the diary over and over–what else is he gonna do–and slowly loses more and more of his grip on his sanity.

Eubank does a masterful job, no doubt helped by his years as a cinematographer. Love is the first movie he’s written and/or directed, but you’d never know that to watch it. With obvious hints of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Love looks like it was shot by a long-time veteran with several Oscar nods under his belt.

Gunner Wright (J. Edgar and GI JOE: Rise of Cobra) enjoys his first leading role as the lonely astronaut, and he conveys perfectly the kind of slowly diminishing grasp on reality you can imagine someone going through in his situation. Truth be told, in a similar situation, I can’t imagine lasting the hour and a half it took to watch this movie, let alone the years Miller finds himself stranded on the ISS. Wright made me forget I was watching a movie.

The score must be mentioned as well. I’m not familiar with Angels & Airwaves, but apparently this movie was meant to be released simultaneously with their album of the same name. The score is beautiful, setting the tone of each scene, carrying the quieter and slowler parts of the movie, and providing the perfect accompaniment to Miller’s plight. I’m not sure if their album LOVE serves as the soundtrack, but if so, I definitely want to get it.

I’m not entirely sure just what the hell was going on in parts of this movie, but it doesn’t feel as if it was made to be understood with only one interpretation. My opinion is, this is a movie from which the viewer takes their own meaning depending on who they are. The ending is definitely open and not spelled out step by step, which, on the one hand, I appreciate, but on the other hand leaves so many questions unanswered. Then again, if given the choice, I’m not sure I would WANT those questions to be answered as part of the joy of this movie is the ambiguity of it. I think if this movie had a simple ABC plot structure, it wouldn’t work nearly as well. Sure, it may make more sense, but the impact would be greatly diminished. I will say, though, that Love probably deserves at least a second viewing, if not a third. I would be willing to bet it’s one of those movies that just gets better every time.

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