Starring Shiv Pandit, Dhruv Ganesh, Siddharth Menon
A lot of fuss was made about the difficulty and boundaries being pushed to make The Revenant. It was a discussion that dominated that films award campaign that did not pay off in the end with Oscar voters concerning best picture. Making its North American debut at SXSW, the Indian film Loev (pronounced “love”) is mostly promoting itself on the secrecy in which the film had to be shot in Mumbai, India. Homosexuality is still punishable by law in India, which made the themes of Loev difficult to shoot in public. Writer/director Sudhanshu Saria’s first feature seems to bank more on it’s risky nature than the quality or cinematic nature of the love story.
Sahil (Ganesh) drops everything when his childhood friend Jai (Pandit) returns to Mumbai for a business trip. Sahil leaves his boyfriend Alex (Menon) behind in the city to getaway and enjoy the weekend hiking through mountains and discussing their lives. The two young men clearly have feelings for each other, but Jai works and lives in New York, also taking care of his mother, rarely returning to India. Sahil, dissatisfied with Alex’s immaturity, he recently forgot to pay the electricity bill, doesn’t want to complicate things with a former lover. The tension between the two rises and falls during the weekend adventures that has them at restaurants, and then back in the city for a meeting and dinner with Alex.
Too much left unexplained throughout the film to understand many of the subtle nuances.
I actually had to read interviews, other reviews and published articles about the nature of each character. I am still not confident I understand the parameters of Saria’s characters because there is so much unexplained. Alex and Sahil seem to live together, but we are never clued into whether they are forced to hide their relationship, or what they tell their friends, maybe this doesn’t matter. We also don’t know the extent of Sahil and Jai’s current or former relationship. Even more confusing is why Alex seems perfectly fine with his boyfriend spending a weekend with another man. Even asking, “are you in love” at one point. Perhaps Sahil’s goal is to challenge the audience, but there is too much left unexplained throughout the film to understand many of the subtle nuances.
The performances from both Pandit (who recently died at age 29 due to tuberculosis) and Bollywood actor Pandit are the core of the film. Their chemistry and authenticity (although both men are known as heterosexual) keep the audience engaged. Loev is quite disappointing, when you consider the possibilities Sahil could have done with this platform. The character’s identities and relationships are so confusing, it distracts from the message I believe he was trying to portray. It leaves the audience frustrated and wanting to see more about these characters and their unspoken struggles and circumstance.
Emotionally ineffective due to the scripts inability to clarify character roles and identities.