Check out Mali’s take on The End of Love here!

I think I officially have my Sundance 2012 dramatic crush: Mark Webber. End of Love is a heartstring-pulling film with amazing performances and hilarious cameos. Built on the father-son relationship between Webber and his son (in real life) Isaac Love, this largely improvisational film captures with astounding realism a story of a struggling actor in LA, grieving, broke, and trying to be a father to his son.

The Players:

  • Director/Screenwriter: Mark Webber
  • Cast: Mark Webber, Shannyn Sossamon, Michael Cera, Jason Ritter, Amanda Seyfried, Frankie Shaw

Synopsis:

Mark is on the verge of losing everything. He’s an out-of-work actor at the end of his rope; exhausted and heart-broken. Down to his last dollars and begging his roommates for a little more time, he’s not unlike many Americans. But he is also grappling with the serious emotional trauma of losing the mother of his son.  This film follows his desperation and humiliation as he tries to father his son, to find romantic and platonic emotional support, and to be a successful adult.

The Good:

It’s really unbelievable that this was improvisation. At the Q&A following the screening, Mark Webber explained that he never told Isaac what to say; that they let him say what he wanted to say, and he and the cast adjusted and followed his lead. It just worked out….AND HOW. There are moments when the dialogue and action between the father and son is so unbelievably perfect for the moment that it just breaks the heart.

There’s also a pretty amazing party scene with Michael Cera, Aubrey Plaza, Alia Shawkat, and a bunch of other actors I assume are his friends. It’s funny and whacky.

The Bad:

I was a little disappointed with the fact that the protagonist (Mark) doesn’t progress that much. He manages to take one step forward, and granted, it’s a big step, but I expected more from a feature like this. He also explained during the Q&A that the reason why he chose this topic and made this film was because he wanted to tell the story of what it’s like to be at the end of a relationship; that when a major relationship ends, it feels like a death (his actual ex and mother of his son, Frankie Shaw, is also in the movie as his dead wife). These things considered, I can see how some might find this film self-indulgent.

Overall:

The dynamic between father and son, and the sheer serendipity of how the dialogue and story progresses is really absorbing and worth watching. Sad, but enjoyable…

Rating: 7