The Dark Side of Love
There's probably a special place in hell for reviewers who pan shoestring indies, but hell couldn't be much worse than this movie.
And the thing is, "The Dark Side of Love" has a good, even beautiful, premise. Two estranged brothers, Julian and Michael, come together after the death of their mother. Julian was his mother's angel, toiling and sending home all the money he could. Michael was his mother's heartbreak, falling into a life of crime and drugs.
Macho to the core, Michael rejected his brother long ago for being gay, but now there is no getting around seeing Julian again. At the same time, Michael's own life is crumbling under the weight of his own addictions and transgressions. How will they build a bridge over these brackish waters?
You read the synopsis and then you see the director's name: Jorge Ameer. It's just dripping with exotic cachet, isn't it? You're thinking he must be the next Almodovar, aren't you? You're queuing up the title, uncorking the Cabernet and speed-dialing for paella all at the same time. Reel by excruciating reel, though, "The Dark Side of Love" will remind you to think twice before judging a DVD by its back-cover copy.
To start, the lighting is so bad from start to finish, you'll feel like you're shaking off the DT's in a no-tell motel, which is, by the way, where so many scenes are shot. Take, for instance, oh, the first scene: a woman in a bad wig writhes on a bed as the opening credits roll. She's supposed to be at home and this is supposed to be her conjugal bed, but it's obviously a cheap hotel room, which Ameer doesn't even bother decorating or in any way disguising. Rather, his attention appears to be where his camcorder is: on the actress' every masturbatory twist and turn.
For the sake of consumer protection, let's explore this sequence a little further. Michael, her potbellied paramour, walks in and closes the door. He takes one look at her and...decides he has to use the john. But, oh, she can't wait! She walks in on him and gets on all fours. Now the viewer is treated to close-ups of unsimulated fellatio -- all while Michael is on the can. We can only be thankful that Ameer's zoom lens didn't pick up any other kind of business his lothario might have been doing in such a compromising position.
The subsequent shower scene of "The Dark Side of Love" is no less tacky, with the nameless nympho on her knees, scrubbing her full-to-bursting scene partner's groin and having to take a shot in the eye for it. (If they forgot scene decor, it's doubtful they remembered saline solution.) Then she pays him? He's the hooker!?
Don't worry, this isn't a plot-spoiler. It's merely the faintest intimation of the cockeyed, incongruous film to follow. For instance, why does the Rubenesque blonde saleswoman at the coffin shop moan and groan and, yes, writhe while showcasing for (gay) Julian possible burial chambers for his mother? If this were one of John Waters' send-ups and she were Edith Massey, this would all make sense. But Ameer has been trying to make a tearjerker while clunking and cluttering up his dramatic arc with all sorts of random absurdities like this. Meantime, the dialogue is devoid of wit, nuance or subtext.
At one point, Ameer seems intent on biting on a classic scene in Woody Allen's "Hannah & Her Sisters" where the camera slowly revolves around a small table as a heated discussion builds between the characters. Except, when Ameer does this, his camera gets stuck for pretty long intervals behind a cut-glass lamp. Sorry but there's no other way to put this: DUH! Move the lamp, genius!
If you want to waste 87 minutes of your life that you'll never get back, go ahead and watch "The Dark Side of Love." It's your headache.
"The Dark Side of Love"
Release Date: July 2, 2013