Running on Empty: Our Canadian Film Festival review of ‘Chasing Valentine’

Posted in Canadian Film Fest 2016, Festival Coverage, Movies by - March 30, 2016
Running on Empty: Our Canadian Film Festival review of ‘Chasing Valentine’

His name is Chase, hers is Valentine, and right there you have a pretty good idea for the plot of Chasing Valentine, an overly serious and unoriginal dramatic romance that wanders into some troubling territory.

While there may be genuine intentions in this story about a forlorn man who meets a beautiful and mysterious woman, the conventions it falls back on, the suggestions it makes about sexuality and gender are far too problematic to make the film something to engage with or enjoy.

Problems arise for our central figure Chase (Adam Langton) when his heart breaks and is quickly meant to be seen as the victim of the nature of love and loss. His day job includes editing adult films, a conceit that can go one of two ways in a movie. Often it would be used for jokes and gags, but here it’s used to not so subtlety suggests that pornography is inherently empty.

That’s because soon Chase meets Valentine (Gwenlyn Cumyn), down on her luck and playing things close to her chest with whom possible romance lingers. Not surprisingly, she has what is portrayed as a very unsavory nighttime job, which leads Chase to get jealous, possessive, and protective. Director Navin Ramaswaran who also co-wrote the film, quickly justifies Chase’s otherwise unfounded concerns, the film tumbles wildly out of control. Guns and broken deals and violence all break out, noisily and almost at random. A sexy thriller this is meant to be, though neither side is strong enough.

Perhaps it’s meant as good natured, but Chasing Valentine pulls a Pretty Woman convention, setting up a woman in distress than requires a man to save her, casually defining sex, love, and romance within an exceedingly narrow and regressive scope.

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