Crazy in Love: Our Review of ‘Love the One You Love’

Posted in OVID.tv by - February 09, 2023
Crazy in Love: Our Review of ‘Love the One You Love’

Love the One You Love, at the time, seems to avoid political commentary that feels customary to South African films. But in retrospect, what Jenna Cato Bass does is hit upon at least two archetypes that were taking shape during the time of its original release – 2014. It has the non committal millennials in the form of Shandile (Andile Nebulane) and Terri (Chi Mhende). The animal shelter worker and the sex phone operator seem, on the outside, like the physical manifestation of Black love. But it seems like they’re doing their best to destroy what their friends envy about them. The film’s other archetype is the incel in the form of one of Terri’s clients Eugene (Louw Venter). He’s trying to deal with his breakup by befriending one of his ex’s nephews, but he adops a coping mechanism that is inarguably crazy.

The South African-ness in Love the One You Love is there if viewers have the patience to look for it within repeat watches. If anything, the film shows tradition clashing with modernity, which feels like a garden variety theme but it tackles it in a different way. Sometimes tradition and modernity work together but as this film shows, sometimes both don’t help the individual. One of the real hindrances to Shandile and Terri’s relationship is their increasing paranoia. They try to treat this with traditional healers and actual detectives. But both are unable to detect the forces they believe are watching over them. Terri also takes calls while Shandile is in the room. Her first conversation with Eugene starts out terribly. His subsequent conversations are more respectful but that’s not the way he treats his ex, who he starts stalking online, among others.

The relationships among these characters feel strong enough but a few of the elements here feel tenuous. It never answers why Shandile and Terry hear the echoes of their own voices within the latter’s apartment. It also doesn’t fully explore the online conspiracy that Eugene rabbit holes. Once in a while Bass transitions every scene with tech-y looking wallpaper that supposedly represents the dimension where voices echo or the one that connects people in a fateful way, but even that interpretation feels like a reach on something that feels ad hoc ambiguous. Others may see Terri’s relationship with Eugene to be equally tenuous. But that’s what third acts are for, turning loose ends into bows. Writing that the act also ‘justifies’ these characters feel reductive. But it’s great that it makes that choice because empathy is more productive than its alternatives.

Love the One You Love is an OVID streaming exclusive.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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