|QFest Film Review: Elliot Loves|
posted by Valerie Temple on Jul 13, 2012 10:00am | comments
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Valerie Temple is the Programming Manager of Bryn Mawr Film Institute,
as well as a filmmaker, video producer and writer whose work has
appeared on such sites as The Awl. This is her first Qfest and she is
super excited about it. You can follow her on Twitter or stalk her on Facebook.
The desire to be loved is as universal as the instinct to breathe air and consume food in order to stay alive. People crave it, and that longing sometimes leads to impulsiveness in declaring love before the time is right. As the Carly Rae Jepsen song goes, "Hey, I just met you and this is crazy. But I think I love you, so marry me, maybe." Wait, those aren't the lyrics?
Elliot Loves is a very apt title for this charmingly goofy comedy, which also manages to be emotionally arresting and poignant. The Elliot of the title, seen both as a lively 10-year-old and a wide-eyed 21-year-old, wants to be loved so badly that he throws himself headlong into relationships that a more experienced person would be able to see are nothing more than flings. Laughs abound as Elliot naively falls for a confident stud whom he meets at the club, only to be awakened by the cutie's live-in boyfriend the next morning. Immediately moving on to a sexy go-go dancer who focuses his attention on the adorable Latino, Elliot is crushed when he is spooked by the word "love." Although funny, it's hard not to feel for the lovesick guy and his near constant heartbreak.
The laugh-out-loud romantic escapades are the crux of the film but, through flashbacks to Elliot's life as a child, it becomes painfully clear that his first heartbreak was his own mother. Having become a mother at a very young age (Elliot's father is described as a "knight in shining armor who just kept riding"), she stays with abusive, intolerant boyfriends despite the negative effect on her son. When the abuse becomes too much to bear, an emboldened Elliot leaves his mother and begins his search for someone who can truly love him, without reservations. Only when he finally finds that love years later can he forgive his mother for her misguided parenting decisions of the past.
Although newcomer Fabio Costaprado was charismatic as the 21-year-old incarnation of Elliot, I found myself yearning for the scenes centered around Quentin Arajo as younger Elliot, The opening scene, featuring the preteen performing a faux shampoo advertisement to his own reflection in a mirror, may not be essential to the plot but beautifully sets the tone for this idiosyncratic and enjoyable film. Writer/director Terracino, who won awards for his short My Polish Waiter in 1995, exhibits a great amount of potential with this nuanced film. Here's hoping he doesn't wait another 17 years to make another one!