Movie Review: Making Love

Making Love (2018)

Directed by Helen Rollins, based on an original play by Peter Rollins, score by Adrian Romero

Length: 27 minutes


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The GCAS Film Reviewers:

The featurette, set in present-day Belfast, opens with the murmuration of a flock of birds at sunrise and no less a quotation from Seminar VII of Jacques Lacan, the master French psychoanalyst. At once, Hitchcock’s 1963 American horror-film, The Birds, comes to mind. A palpable tension shoots through the visual and sound experience as we see a man stand in the middle of a bridge, looking pensive at the birds. The gestalt is akin to that of neo-noir films like Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner. An expressionist black-and-white vignette cuts to an extreme close-up in color of two faces --a man and a woman. Another tension builds the framing narrative -- “[...] stories could start a revolution”, says the man.

Making Love is a brilliant story within a story, a desire within a desire. Ah, and desire? What is this, what drives a man to love? What is the cause of love itself? This is the question the film chases down as if every frame depends on it. But this isn’t some sappy, sentimental, Hollywood style aesthetic. If a film could be possessed by wanting to know the truth about love, or better, where love arrives from (the causal desire of love), this film holds nothing back. In this sense, it is a philosophical and psychological thriller with the viewer torturously forced to see where it goes--a horror film about love itself; indeed it triggers the primordial sensibilities in the viewer who can neither escape nor wants to. For me (Creston) I felt ensnared in the same desire of the man. “I need to know, if you love me.” The screen is shattered.

The man wants to know if his lover loves him. He cannot help himself -- it is too late, he is down the rabbit hole riding the wave seeking certitude in his lover. He is already a zombie looking for resurrection in her desire. Can she save him from himself even if she wanted to?

If she does, love may well save everything. If she doesn’t he may be saved from himself but only through death. “You only want what you cannot have.”


Making Love begins and ends with the same scene — a man (David Dastmalchian, credited as “Writer”), standing alone on a wintry bridge at dawn, staring at a flock of birds above. He is back in Belfast, after many years; he seeks out a woman (Frédérique Bel, credited as “Woman”) who had had an affair with him. Adrian Romero’s buzzingly neo-noir, contrapuntal sound continuity and Ryan Kernaghan’s dream-like, shallow focus cinematography keep us, like the protagonists themselves, persistently in medias res — unable to tell whether a flashback or a flashforward; less the fate of the narrative. Such transfixing uncertainty pervades the film: things may not be as they seem, and the prospect itself is paralyzing. And yet, embracing the unease of uncertainty may be the only way out of the (Borromean?) loop —for the protagonists, and perhaps even for ourselves.

Anna White:

In Making Love, old lovers revisit their capacity to love one another, as we often need to do, both in and out of a relationship. Is a life in love possible? In the case of the film, the characters spend their time asking the other if they love, instead of actually giving love and making love. They do not abandon themselves to the full force and reality of love. To do so, it would seem, would require an abandonment and responsibility they are not capable of. Two times in the film it is asked by the narrator: ‘do you ever get the uneasy feeling that you’re not being watched?’ And it’s at that point that the characters lose their courage to live in love. Real love, suggests the film, is self-obliterating, anonymous and monumental. In the end, will the characters take the leap off that bridge and into a transcendent confluence, much like the murmuration of birds they watch? No, they will not, and so the question is left in the lap of the viewer: will you take that leap?

Ekaterina Filippova:

This short film was incredibly full with symbolic, real and imaginary. Big Other who was providing the rules and on whom we depended, terrifying real around which characters are making circles and imaginary, us looking through the mirror of identification with them.

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ReviewsErica Kitzman