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Set in a dreary urban landscape of Edmonton, LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS is a dark comedy about a group of twentysomethings looking for love and meaning in the '90s. The film focuses on roommates David, a gay waiter who has has given up on his acting career, and Candy, a book reviewer who is also David's ex-lover. David and Candy's lives are entangled with those of David's friends (a busboy, a psychic dominatrix, and a misogynistic civil-servant) and Candy's dates (a male bartender and a lesbian schoolteacher). Meanwhile, a serial killer menaces the concrete and asphalt neighbourhood in which David and Candy live. Written by
Yes, this film has many gay characters. It also has straight characters, characters who are not sure about their sexuality, people who are searching for some truth about their existence.
This is not a film about sexual orientation. It's about loneliness and the difficulty human beings often experience in connecting to one another. Filmically, Denys Arcand cleverly balances the various dimensions of the relationships and the contrasting, constantly shifting relationships. The serial killer element is a bit less successful (it feels more like a way to wrap up various plot points and, unlike the rest of the film, is thematically heavy-handed).
Thomas Gibson centers and grounds the film; it's a quiet performance but behind the handsome, arrogant exterior he slowly reveals a terrified soul afraid of showing or accepting love from those around him. The supporting cast is strong, especially Mia Kirshner as Gibson's friend, a dom-for-hire with precognitive powers. Her role is more metaphor than a literal conceit---strangely innocent and depraved at the same time, she represents the light and dark of the characters' sexual consciousness.
The film's involving and often surprises in its character development. The effect is somewhat like Robert Altman directing a David Mamet script---the dialogue doesn't shrink from some searing observations aside from a few contrived moments in the beginning. Often, in our search for love and a conventional "relationship", we ignore the love that already exists around us---in our friends, family, those who are able to see us as we are. Arcand and the writer, Brad Fraser, make some canny observations on the different ways human beings try to escape and deny their loneliness and how that denial returns to haunt us in so many unexpected ways.
This film is a rewarding experience. It may not be for bigots who can't get past the sexual orientation of some of the characters to see the greater, transcendental message of hope and redemption. Loneliness is a universal experience. A film like this, that dares to explore the darker side of our lives with a clever and perceptive eye, deserves applause and an open-minded approach.
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