FILM

Lovesong
By Joshuah Ellis With on February 14, 2016

“Lovesong”, the sometimes tragic, sometimes hopeful, and always beautiful offering from director So Yong Kim, tells the story of a young mother (Sarah) who tries to equalize the difficult joy of raising her young daughter with the disappointment of a strained marriage (her husbands work takes him away from the family for indefinite periods of time) and banal life. Her day is occupied with the ordinary: waking, eating, chatter, walking in nature. Her pace through life is slow. Undergirding her routines is sadness and longing and what feels like a numbed discontent. Enter her college friend Mindy, a free-spirited, fun loving woman guided by impulse more than by intent. As Sarah confides her disillusionment with life in Mindy we see the lines between platonic friendship and romance begin to distort. Mindy offers Sarah a reprieve from her loneliness, not because of her gender but because of her presence and emotional engagement. Sarah seems beguiled by Mindy; their friendship is feminine, their connection is human, and their chemistry is natural. And just as quickly as their passion develops, Mindy disappears. Three years pass before they are reacquainted at Mindy’s wedding. In the days leading up to the wedding ceremony, questions that were left unaddressed and emotions that were unresolved resurface. Sarah and Mindy love each other but seem unable or unwilling to act on it. We’re not told why. There are no ethical objections or religious bigotry in the movie; however, a restless restraint comes from somewhere. Merely hours from the vows, Sarah and Mindy share a moment of transcendent beauty. We don’t know if it was sexual but it is charged with sensual power. Here is where Kim is at her magical best as a director. The movie is purposefully underscored (the sounds of nature are more prominent than music), leaving space for the audience to engage their hearts and minds and feel the moment as radical love; my heart pounded for them. So when Mindy reappears at the altar and says, “I do” we are left disappointed, unsure if she should be marrying that day. I never got the feeling that the movie was attempting to make an ethical or political statement. It was a human movie that made gender both a focus and unimportant. More important was the nature of love and connectedness and how eros and phileo comingle in complicated ways. I wanted more for Sarah and Mindy and am hopeful for a day when their love is no longer taboo. My ethic is clear on that. I left the theater with a deeper appreciation for the beauty of love, even if it at times confounds. I wonder what it is that God intended for us as humans as we wade through those mystifying waters of fidelity with another human being? Perhaps it is a fully orbed partnership that houses the various types of love in a way that makes us most human. “Lovesong” both muddies and clears those waters.

About the Author: Joshuah Ellis
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