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The small time criminal Heaton is anxiously waiting for the release of his close friend Spike, after spending a couple of months in prison for being caught with 87g of marijuana. Heaton robs a truck, meets Spike outside the penitentiary and travels with him through the country to drink some beers and celebrate his freedom. However, they run out gas and try to steal from a farm, but the owner arrives and arrests Heaton. Spike takes his shotgun and accidentally kills his daughter. They runaway through the wilderness while the locals organize a militia to hunt the criminals. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tragic, yet engrossing story of loyalty in friendship
Before the regular comments, my main curiosity about THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG is that while there's a running time listed on IMDb of 94 minutes, the DVD from Wellspring Media in the United States runs 88 minutes. Any input on this is appreciated!
Two friends with very rough lives take on the road for an adventure. What they wind up in is just that, with one accidentally shooting a girl and the two escaping by foot into the countryside. Rather than just a big chase, the film is complicated by the the daft and rather childlike Spike behaving inappropriately, and clutching his boom box like a teddy bear. Some viewers may dislike the story based solely upon the character Spike, but without a bit of frustration added to the story, the film would have been too easy. You'll notice the way the more stable character Heaton refers to Spike as "big man" in contrast to Spike's "kid out of control" attitude and behavior. Frankly, I too was aggravated by Spike's ridiculous actions, especially the spray can sniffing, but in a desperate situation it's apparent someone of his mentality would choose an temporary escape. But, Heaton was there to keep things in check up until things get way over his head as well.
Kenny Glenaan as Heaton is a marvel, and after a while I quit wondering why in the heck he would want to pick Spike up from prison and continue a friendship, due to Glenaan's great performance. After all, there are many many reasons during their run that would be a good idea for Heaton to just ditch Spike and try to save himself. I suppose Heaton felt like a protective older brother to Spike, and the loyalty between the two is hard to break -- until things get too desperate.
While some of the cinematography is indeed artsy, it does offer more flavor to story instead of just shots of the men running through the wilderness. The beautiful landscapes, rain, and vast gray skies offer a somber tone that increases the feel of the tragic circumstances. The score is unusual as well, and the use of Public Image Ltd.'s song "This Is Not A Love Song" and as the title of the film is quite smart.
Overall, it's understandable if you don't care for THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG as it's focused on two contrasting personalities escaping from another man determined to hunt them down (played by a cool, quiet David Bradley). It's not big-budget action entertainment. For the rest of us that enjoy seeking out something minimal and dramatic, it's time worthwhile spent, and it DOES offer some extremely tense moments that have you holding your breath a bit.
I'm really enjoying the films coming out of Scotland recently, with the likes of this one, Dog Soldiers, and The Devil's Tattoo. I'm also a bit thankful for the subtitles offered on this DVD, as the accents are sometimes lightning fast and difficult for some viewers like me to understand.
Frustrating, dark, and often tense, THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG is very tragic yet engrossing storytelling.
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