Directed by: Ashley Horner
Saturday, November 13th, 10:30 p.m.
Thalian Hall Main Stage
In “brilliantlove,” a film by the UK based media company Pinball Films, one of its main characters utters, “What interests me is art that arouses sexual desire.” The character is a pornographer, looking to commission a photography exhibit of risqué shots taken by another character. While it may have been a line in the script, it was definitely written to echo the sentiments of the film’s creators.
“A bespoken producer of extreme, outsider cinema,” is what their website claims them to be—and the slogan fits. “brilliantlove” goes through segments that are shock-inspired, thought-provoking and beautifully framed. Not cut out for the average viewer, it is one for the sophisticated moviegoer who does not simply want to sit and consume through osmosis.
The story line is simple, almost cliché. It focuses on the relationship of two twenty-somethings living a meager existence inside a small storage garage in northern England. Madly in love, Manchester and Noon cannot get enough of each other—and it shows. They consummate their love every chance they get, either together or alone. Their passion ignites creativity in Manchester, and he snaps raw, in-the-act photography that soon catches the eye of Franny, a pornography producer. Enticed by the prowess that Franny promises, Manchester agrees to an exhibit of his work, but this is unbeknownst to Noon, the main subject of almost all the pieces. He works behind her back, and they see each other less and less, growing apart and fighting often. Suffice to say, when she finds out what he’s been doing, it’s not good. At the end of the film, angst and sorrow run rampant but eventually get pushed away by the strength of their love.
It’s the typical story of fame and fortune bringing about a fall. Material wants yield moral demise, and peoples’ happy existences turn dismal by the compromise of their old values. We’ve seen it a hundred times. However, producer and director Ashley Horner and writer Sean Conway erase the cliché from this timeless concept through offbeat instances and artful cinematography. It is one of the most aesthetically pleasing films I’ve seen in a long time. Each frame could be a still-life photograph itself, hung somewhere in a downtown art gallery. Anyone with an interest in art produced from behind a camera should make it a point to view “brilliantlove,” as well as keep a special eye out for a scene where the camera and set perspective doesn’t change at all but the character jars from one place to another in quick, sharp cuts that have no transition.
The characters are also quirkier and more eccentric then those usually depicted in these circumstances. Noon is a taxidermist that doesn’t stuff little frozen birds, rather “re-arranges their skin,” and Manchester is just a lovable, artsy train wreck. Their conversations waver from mundane to intimate, playing by in a realistic trade-off of how communication in romantic relationships really is. They heighten a level of engagement and intrigue around them through their capricious natures and voracious sexual appetites.
“brilliantlove” steams with scenes dripping in sweat, writhing in limbs and twisting in kink. The sex motif has relentless stamina and never diminishes throughout the entire two hours. Its realistic nature puts the viewer in the corner of the room, just watching. Ashley Horner has no fear of the human body and depicting what it can do and what it can crave, yet it’s never in flashy or bad taste. The theme of the movie ultimately heightens when the pornographer reveals, “Money is like sex: Only too much is enough.”