This Is Not a Love Song (2002) Poster

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Tragic, yet engrossing story of loyalty in friendship
hippiedj19 October 2003
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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simple story - great return
theo4isobelle27 December 2003
I managed to go and see this film at a local university cinema, and I took my mother (not the worlds greatest film connoisseur!) to see it. Result? We both loved it. I appreciated the narrative, disturbing ending and experimental camera work. My mum loved the characters and loved making the links for herself. It was a heavy weight to carry for such a small cast and such a small location, but it didn't need the fancy thrills and special effects of Hollywood. This film stood up entirely on it's own as an entertaining and gripping piece, with a title I adored. After all, that was the reason I wanted to see it (not that I'm superficial)
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Weird and Overrated Low-Budget Movie
Claudio Carvalho10 August 2007
The small time criminal Heaton (Kenny Glenaan) is anxiously waiting for the release of his close friend Spike (Michael Colgan), 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.

I glanced the good IMDb reviews before buying the DVD "This Is not a Love Song" and I am really disappointed with this weird and overrated low-budget movie. The story explores the same situation of "Deliverance"; uses a terrible camera like in "The Blair Witch Project"; the lead characters are not well developed and there is no clear explanation of their close relationship, only insinuation that Heaton might be homosexual and loves Spike, who seems to be retarded or very stupid. The acting is excellent and very realistic, and is the better offered in this flick. My vote is five.

Title (Brazil): "Fuga Alucinada" ("Hallucinated Runaway")
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Brilliant.....if you like this kind of thing
Greg Turner30 September 2005
"This Is Not A Love Song" is a brilliant example of the chase genre, which many people think has an underlying meaning. The love between the two main characters may be more than fraternal. I believe that Heaton is in love with Spike, but Spike is too naive to see this.

I really feel this is portrayed with such scenes as the blow back and letter writing sequences. Heaton shows great intimacy towards Spike. With intense facial expressions and how he takes great care in writing Spike's name on the top of his letters.

One thing I've noticed when looking at external reviews, is that when the film has been slated, the reviewer seems to have not fully understood the film, as they haven't even mentioned the possibility of Heaton having sexual feelings for Spike. I also get the feeling that some of the reviewers haven't recognised it, when they use phrases like: "Who is Heaton? What's he doing with a retard like Spike?" This person, however may have hit the nail on the head with their remark. Spike shows noticeable signs of having A.D.D, although I don't think this person has realised this, as he seems to be using the word "retard" as a derogatory term.

I really enjoyed this film. Although it is not for the faint hearted. The film is exceedingly character based, after the shooting until the end there isn't much but dialogue between the two anti-heroes. Unless you are used to watching such deep, gritty films, stay well away.
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A mix of Trainspotting and The Blair Witch Project
Philip Van der Veken1 January 2005
It isn't always easy to explain what a movie is like, but this time I think I've found it. It reminded me of two movies: Trainspotting (small time criminals scoring some drugs and doing some stupid things in Schotland) and The Blair Witch Project (because of the style of filming).

It's about the loyalty between two friends, one of them is coming out of jail, the other one hasn't been caught yet. With a stolen vehicle they drive through the Scottish countryside but than run out of petrol. As they try to find some fuel, they find a farm in the middle of nowhere. The farmer thinks they want to rob him and points a gun at one of them. Than it all goes wrong. One of the friends accidentally shoots the farmer's daughter and they have to run. What follows is a man hunt through the fields and woods of Schotland. The two friends literally have to run for their lives.

Apparently this movie was shot in only 12 days time. OK, that's not exactly unbelievable because the biggest part of it is always in the same place: the Scottish countryside, but I still find that quite amazing. Especially because this isn't actually a bad movie. It's perhaps not the greatest movie ever, but they still can be proud of what they achieved. I had a nice time watching it and overall I enjoyed the movie. I give it a 7/10.
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Suspenseful and well acted thriller
Sven Nordenstam19 November 2002
A suspenseful thriller that bears some resemblance to Deliverance as for scenery and setting. There are also some very innovatively shot scenes and good music, although the daftness and sometimes seemingly careless attitude of one of the characters is unfitting to the situation, although this is not a mayor problem. It also poses interesting questions about justness of revenge and limits of friendship.
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My one word summary of this film would be `Excellent'.
john-broadway29 September 2003
This is Not a Love Song.

My one word summary of this film would be `Excellent'.

It probably won't appeal to the mass movie watching public – it's a

film that forces you to participate. You observe, think, and question.

Comparisons could be made with Deliverance (Topic/Theme) and

perhaps with The Blair Witch Project for overall filming style.

However this film stands unique against both.

The cinematography effects (solarisation, freeze frame, blur etc)

have been seen before but they are used most effectively in this

film to underpin the natural tension of the story.

Acting is raw, menacing and utterly believable.

The real theme of the film is about friendship; the title really gives

the game away. It's probably not the kind of friendship that most of

us have experienced or indeed would want to.

It is a love song.
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Fine film
dcavalie10 December 2009
Some have compared this film to Deliverance. I believe Of Mice and Men is more appropriate. Our leading man, Heaton, definitely loves Spike. It is irrelevant and immaterial whether that is a sexual love. It is the reason Heaton does not leave Spike. He needs him. They need each other. As brothers, as family, as their only connection to humanity. The setting, scenario, minimal cast all add up to a fine film. Frankly, I did not care what happened to the characters. But, I did care about what the film maker did with them. He did well with them. I spent some time wondering how the ending would resemble Of Mice and Men. The soundtrack and cinematography were compelling and intriguing.
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The thing that makes this film so brilliant is that there's so much more
Isobel Chadwick22 October 2009
Personally I couldn't get into 'This is Not a Love Song', its a brilliant film and there's a great story line to it, I just found myself checking the time on my phone every two minuets to see how much was left of the film.

I love the relationship between Spike and Heaton, there that close they depend on each other to get along in life. At the same time I wish the relationship was more than what it is. Heaton is in love with spike, but Spike Ibsen't in love with Heaton, or he doesn't know how to love him. The acts of betrayal, on both parts, have a big effect on the two men. They are both devastated by the fact that the other ran away and abandoned them, at a time when they truly needed each other for survival.
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Simple, effective and Strange
adam dixon21 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I am currently doing film studies at A.S level and "this is not a love song" is a film we watched and in my opinion it is a film with a very simple storyline but a complex back-story. If you scratch the surface you will find a thriller-chase film of two men running through the countryside from farmers, after committing a murder:-"sounds quite exiting".

However you need to dig deeper to uncover the true feeling of the true genre. As it is suggested, it is a love story between two homosexual lovers, filled with trust, deceit and betrayal. We are not told about this "love" directly through the film but the events that happen through out, for example the way Heaton acts towards Spike almost screams this untouched love affair in our faces.

Overall this film is a good example of why British films should not be dismissed as "rubbish" just because they are done on a low budget.

A Good film with an intricate story line, however it is definitely an acquired taste and is possibly not suitable for the average fan of Hollywood blockbusters.
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an excellent British film
brewerton_singh21 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
i think the team behind this film did a very good job with the limitations they had. only £300,000 and 7 weeks to write, film and edit the whole thing which i think is an achievement in itself. although this film is not for the masses (as a young innocent teenage girl is killed and there is homo-eroticism involved in the story) i think that this film is a heart wrenching tragedy and the more deeply involved you get in the story, the more sadness you feel. more so towards Heaton because of the love he feels but is not returned.

this is one of my favourite British films that i enjoyed very much and would watch again. i think that it's a shame that is film is not very well heard of at all.
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a good film but seems to lack emphasis and direction
Daanish Hussain19 October 2009
to start id have to say this is a good film and knowing the conditions under which it was made with little money and in a short space of time i think that the team behind it have done a good job. i do however have a few criticisms one thing that i don't like is the lack of emphasis upon Heatons homosexuality and his feelings towards spike. i think that if it had been made more obvious to the viewer we could have understood his despair and his mixed emotions towards spike better. another thing i didn't like was how the film seemed to lose itself at times not carrying the momentum it started with. this was a bit distracting and removed me out of the experience at times. there were points were the emotion's that the audience were meant to feel weren't made very clear and it was neither laid out or open to interpretation for example the scene were the girl is shot builds tension but then the father lets out a comedic scream which ruins the work before it.

overall a good film but i think more time might have helped this picture to become something more. it was however never going to have mainstream appeal with the underlying sub contexts that may have struggled to make an impact on modern audience's. i do not think that it was meant for mainstream cinema anyway so in a way that is understandable, its a shame it wont reach a wider audience but its flaws would stop it from box office success anyway.
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difficult yet appealing watch
rachel-emma19 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a film that the mainstream market will probably never be able to access as it doesn't exactly give the viewer easy watching. The story about troubled Spike and his friend Heaton is not exactly a Friday night film yet it has its own unique edge and I found that it was entertaining. There are moments of brilliance given that the film was shot on such a low budget, such as when Spike inhales the aerosol. However I did not really understand the relationship between Spike and Heaton and to be honest it made me spend most of the film trying to work it out. And also I did not like the fact that most of the film is spent with the two friends talking and not really much "action". It is a small film that is complex to watch and that is what makes it appealing.
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Quite a good film
Emma Clayton15 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I found this very touching as Spike and Heaton stay together all the way through this film not to say there isn't a few betrayals along the way. I thought the chase was put aside the relationship between the two was foreground I think. I had already guessed that there were so gay intentions on the part of Heaton. My favourite scene had to be the bit where Heaton and Spike were stuck in the marsh and Spike runs off I generally thought Spike wasn't coming back. I have to say that if it wasn't for our film studies teacher making us watch this I would have probably never seen it. Overall I thought this film was pretty good and I would recommend it to any person who is a fan of British made films.
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the film is OK, however could be better.
Pearson12112 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this film in a film studies class, if not then i think i never would have seen it. The film showed potential at the start with the scene of Spike under pressure of the farmer challenging spike not to shoot, dogs in the back ground barking and heaton spikes partner screaming for help in the locked shed, ending with spike shooting the farmers young innocent girl after that the film just goes down hill. however there are some short moments that make the film still bearable like when heaton and spike show there emotions of freindship and love for one another by keeping warm as they fall asleep under a pylon. In conclusion the film was OK, however could have been made better.
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This is not a bad film
JoeytheBrit8 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is quite an intense character study of two men under extreme stress, centred around the concept of loyalty, that grows increasingly absorbing as it unfolds even if it doesn't quite have the depth that writer Simon Beaufroy (writer of The Full Monty) may have been seeking.

First impressions weren't good as director Bille Eltringham seems intent on throwing every film-school technique he can think of at the screen. These distracting attempts to add some artistic merit to what is a fairly basic story come and go and, for the most part they are just that – distracting – but when they do work they do so extremely well. The idea of fixing the camera to the end of the shotgun wielded by the child-like Spike (Michael Colgan) works brilliantly, giving the impression that it is the weapon that is controlling the man and also emphasising the fear and confusion of the moment. But the use of blurry PoV shots as the men flee their pursuers is just annoying.

Kenny Glanaan plays Heaton, a small-time criminal who collects his friend Spike from prison after a four month sentence. We are given no further information about the two men, other than the fact that Heaton hasn't visited Spike during his sentence, and has written him numerous letters without sending them. From this slender premise a story can wither and die or it can bloom, and fortunately this one blooms, helped immeasurably by terrific acting from the two leads and Eltringham/Beaufroy's success in refusing to allow the story to degenerate into some kind of men-on-the-run action flick. Spike and Heaton aren't hardened criminals, they're the pettiest of criminals, and they're traumatised by their accidental murder of a girl and the subsequent pursuit by a stubbornly determined band of locals (perhaps the film's weakest point is the way the police seem to simply melt into the background without explanation). Early in the film, the two men are often shown in extreme close-up, or are confined to one section of the screen by objects around them, and at this point they are confident and self-assured; it's only when they are out in the wide open spaces ('Is this the countryside?' asks Spike) that their confidence evaporates. It's a nice contrast, this idea that the wider the spaces, the closer the net is tightening around them.

The film concludes with a moment of quiet, sublime horror that is incredibly powerful (and vaguely reminiscent of moments in Shane Meadows' Dead Man's Shoes), and a twist that, on it's simplest level represents both the reward for loyalty and the character traits necessary to adhere to its reality.
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This is worth the effort (barely)
wernervp18 September 2003
I'm watching this film as I write (it is after all an internet download) and the feeling I get is of lots of talk and little action. I feel no connection with the two characters, who are not really likeable at all.

Their actions are incongruous with the events. Would you joke and waffle that much in the higlands on obviously cold days trekking through mountains after you killed somebody..? Drugtaking? No you would act differently. The problem I have is there is too much talk... This is a movie not a theatre play...

Anyway the thing I applaud is the fact that it was a low budget film which was distributed in an original way (hey it got me watching it) and I hope it will do well therefore.
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very impressive
aclion22 August 2002
Saw the premiere for this at Edinburgh film festival. it was a great film, made in only 12 days of filming, in scotland. the director, writer and 2 leads were present, and answered questions, which was cool. if you get the chance to watch it, do, its excellent.
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a weird yet touching story
Nikki_Jadexx20 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
watching this film for the first time, I couldn't make my mind up if i liked it or hated it. I thought that the film was slow and difficult to understand, as I was constantly trying to work out the relationship between Spike and Heaton. The story line was also quite boring and weird, despite my negative comments, I thought that the film was really touching when we realise in the end that Heaton has buried feelings for his close friend. we also feel sympathy for Heaton as we understand that he feels betrayed by Spike, this also makes us realise that in fact Heaton is the weaker character in the relationship. The ending of the film is weird yet clever, as it leaves you wondering whether Heaton is actually alive or not, which adds to the effect of confusion and sadness.
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Dull and meandering film
Steven J29 December 2002
I had a chance to catch this film at the Chicago Film Festival, and I have to admit I was expecting something a little more lighthearted from Simon "Full Monty" Beaufoy. Not that this automatically made me dislike the movie; the fact that it's not good made me dislike it. The story concerns two best friends -- both criminals, one recently released from prison -- who find themselves on the run in the wilderness when they accidentally kill a young woman. The two pals spar, joke, laugh and cry together as they desperately attempt to stay alive over the course of one very grueling night.

With only one setting and a 24-hour time period, you would think the audience would be given ample opportunity to discover the inner workings of these two men, what makes them tick and stay together even as they destroy one another. And yet, screenwriter Beaufoy opts for a vague approach that doesn't really do justice to either of the central characters on screen. I understand that this is intentional; I do not understand why Beaufoy thought viewers would find it more interesting to watch his characters walk silently around the wilderness for what feels like hours on end.

The lead performance by Kenneth Glenaan as Heaton is phenomenal, though, as Glenaan brings shadings and depths due to his character that Beaufoy obviously did not provide in his script. "This is Not a Love Song" would make a spellbinding short film, but at feature length, it's meandering and repetitious to the point of boredom.
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candyfloss19 September 2002
I caught this film at the Edinburgh Film Festival. I hadn't heard much about it; only that it was a tightly-paced thriller, shot digitally on a very low budget. I was hoping to catch the next big Brit-Flick. But I have to say, I was severely disappointed. "This Is Not A Love Song" follows two criminals, who, after accidentally shooting and killing a farmer's young daughter, become embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse when the locals decide to take matters into their own hands and hunt them down.

The real problem is that this is yet another example of style over substance in a British film. The camera angles and editing are completely at odds with the story, as are the over the top performances, and the appalling use of slow motion, which only serves to make the whole thing look like an expensive home video. There are repeated attempts to make the film look edgy and gritty, which instead come over as hilarious and over the top(Cue a pathetic, obligatory drug scene, and countless, pointless camera zooms). No amount of cliche's such as this can disguise the fact that this is a pretty bad story.

We've seen this kind of thing many times before, and made a hundred times better, particularly in John Boorman's masterful "Deliverance." But while in the latter film, we actually cared about the characters, in this film, I found myself just wanting them to be hunted down and killed as quickly as possible. Even this wouldn't have been so bad if their adversaries had been frightening or worthwhile, but instead, are merely a collection of stereotypical, inbred-looking countryfolk. Again, another offensive, overused cliche' coming to the fore. Surely there are some nice people in the country, filmmakers?

In its defense, "This Is Not A Love Song" does contain a couple of good, suspenseful moments, but it's hard to see this film doing anything other than going straight to video, or, at a push, getting a very limited cinema release. It's not a patch on last year's Low-Budget hunted in the hills movie, "Dog soldiers". Maybe British Cinema could actually get kick-started again if the right money stopped going to the wrong people.
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boy was this bad.
utibay6 January 2004
Let's be honest, this movie was not very good. Yes, it was incredibly well shot and yes, there were strokes of genius such as the scene where the girl gets shot and the diary sequences. However, that does not make up for a very unoriginal story, unbelievable costume and props, atrocious sound, and one of the worst acting jobs I have ever seen (the guy who plays Spike).

I saw this on a plane, and in the first few scenes, I thought it had the potential to be great. But boy, the more I watched, the more I thought it was bad.
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