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The End of Love

2013 | Not rated

The End of Love


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Theatrical release date

 01 March, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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The End of Love Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, February 15, 2013

At the risk of coming off cold-hearted, I admit I wasn’t moved by Mark Webber’s “The End of Love.” It’s too incomplete and calculated to truly engage emotions, though it’s not without a few surprises, chiefly in the performance department. Webber appears to be making an audition tape with his second directorial effort, using screen time to display a range of moods and dramatic encounters that could go on to secure future jobs for the actor, never quite gelling as a film of its own. Still, elements of note do break through the artificiality, keeping “The End of Love” more interesting than infuriatingly self-promoting, as it’s inclined to be on occasion.

After the death of his love, Mark (Mark Webber) is left to care for his two-year-old son, Isaac (Weber’s real-life child, Isaac Love). Destitute and grief-stricken, Mark attempts to continue his career as an actor, but finds it difficult to juggle the needs of a toddler with the demands of meetings and auditions. Behind on rent and facing a bleak future of unemployment, Mark attempts to carry on as normal, finding some light in Lydia (Shannyn Sossamon), a fellow single parent who takes a shine to the rumpled, unshowered guy, pulled in by his vulnerability. While trying his best to return to the life he once knew, Mark displays a weird disorientation around friends and loved ones, communicating his shattered self in embarrassing, ill-timed ways. With time running out on his housing options, Mark is left with a reality of parenthood, trying to maintain Isaac’s happiness while wrestling with his own, undefined needs.

“The End of Love” is a feature of behaviors, shot in an HD verite fashion the keeps to indie film trends, allowing the effort room to explore improvisations and emotional impulses without the burden of directorial mechanics. The approach is necessary considering Webber’s co-star is his own child, and little Love is filled with life and curiosity, demanding a rodeo clown performance from the lead actor to keep the kid on target with scenes of draining domestic duties and relentless play time questioning. The editing here is phenomenal, working to erase the seams of Webber’s paternal leadership that leads Love to moments the director is hunting for, while still tending to all the natural emoting and wonder needed to preserve the toddler’s natural presence. However, much of “The End of Love” is devoted to scenes of interaction between the boys, watching the daily business of feeding, traveling, and sleeping, keeping the picture more observational than penetrative.

To help fill out the dead spots of what little passes here for story, Webber calls in numerous favors, asking friends such as Amanda Seyfried (playing Mark’s horrified audition scene partner, trying to act with a toddler in the room) and Jason Ritter (who offers the harried father cash to cover his mounting debt) to pop in as themselves. There’s also a mid-movie actor party thrown by Michael (Michael Cera) that cruelly reminds Mark of the life he once knew, interacting with pals such as Aubrey (Aubrey Plaza) and Michael (Michael Angarano), while Jocelin (Joceline Donahue) emerges as a former girlfriend eager to rekindle passion for her ex, only he’s too mentally fractured to process the fragility of the situation. The scene promises a strong show of humiliation and irresponsibility, but soon dissolves into parody once Michael pulls out a loaded gun to toy with. Stabs at levity end up hurting the picture.

Perhaps most surprising here is Sossamon, who’s atypically loose and charming as Lydia, finding a quiet note of desire to play that registers pleasingly. It’s a nice role for her, adding some human qualities to Webber’s shapeless creation, also offering the lead a focal point to a performance that needs the concentration.

Tears are shed and memories sting in “The End of Love,” which does manage to capture the tangible pain of loss (symbolized though Mark’s struggle with a pet goldfish), especially when a loved one is ripped away. However, Webber steps in indie film footprints too readily with this movie, creating something that’s painfully familiar, even when it’s aching to express personal feelings. It’s a mix of shallow and sincere, and it falls all too easily into indulgent mediocrity.

Starring: Mark Webber, Amanda Seyfried, Shannyn Sossamon, Jason Ritter, Michael Cera, Aubrey Plaza
Director: Mark Webber

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