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Kenneth (Desmond Harrington) works as a technical writer--he creates
user's manuals. He's good at his job but he has trouble emotionally
connecting with others. At about the same time that Kenneth's boss,
Novak (Rip Torn), hires an attractive temp assistant for him, Lisa
(Melissa Sagemiller), Kenneth becomes obsessed with a lifelike sex doll
named "Nikki". He gradually makes the doll appear as close as he can to
Lisa. But when Lisa begins showing interest in him, it leads to
complications and possibly disastrous consequences.
Writer/director Robert Parigi's Love Object is an exploration of various kinds of objectification, but in the wrapper of a psychological thriller/horror film. Although it is sourced in an actual object called "The Real Doll" (an expensive, life-like sex doll available via mail order/on the Internet), and it has filmic thematic precursors, from the good (Private Parts, 1972) to the not so good (Der Mann nebenan, aka A Demon in My View, 1991), as well as attitudinal/emotional precursors, ranging from Psycho (1960) to Boxing Helena (1993) to Office Space (1999), Parigi is much more tightly focused on objectification, not only when it comes to sex, but also as it imbues working life and to a small extent, private life, as well.
The first half hour of the film shows us Kenneth at his job. The office is bland and conformist, with white-collar employees sitting in similar cubicles as they crank out their soul-squelching work and desperately try to find anything to provide a spark of color or entertainment and help them get through their days. We can tell that Kenneth has been at it for a while, because he has the blankest look on his face. Parigi is showing us how this kind of work objectifies employees. They're just cogs in a wheel, alienated and alienating, chipping away at mostly meaningless crap, existing only insofar as they continue to feed the right objects to their fellow workers and the administrative machinery. (Can you tell I've worked one of those jobs before?) Once Lisa arrives, she's objectified as a tool to help production, only useful and existent as long as she fulfills that function. When she puts a kink into it by having an emotional outburst, she's threatened with exile. Emotions aren't allowed.
So it's no surprise, being socialized into such a work environment, that Kenneth fetishizes a literal object, "Nikki", which he often relates to via a user's manual on his computer. And it's no surprise that he transfers that conceptualization to Lisa. As the film progresses, Kenneth tries to make Lisa and Nikki more alike, sometimes working on one, sometimes the other. Long before they begin to unify, Kenneth shows signs that his alienation is leading to a loss of his rational faculties. He begins to believe that Nikki is alive, interacting with him and eventually threatening him. He later begins to conflate Lisa and Nikki while he's with Lisa. Obviously, this is a recipe for disaster, and what a delicious disaster Parigi gives us in the final section of the film.
Although relatively slow in the beginning, the pacing and suspense gradually intensify until the climax. The change is appropriate, as the film takes place during Kenneth's break with sanity. It's only slight quirks at the beginning, but by the end he's a full-blown psycho. That's not something that happens in the blink of an eye.
Parigi also works his theme of objectification into the residents of the apartment where Kenneth dwells. Even though they live together, sometimes right next door to each other, they think of one another more as functions. One person is the manager, another the cop. Kenneth, known as the "degenerate" to the cop, watches the manager (Udo Kier) fondling a woman in the hall, objectifying them as porno material (and there are also later scenes in a porno shop, a locale where objectification has long been an issue). The manager is shown at one point playing with dolls of his own--small porcelain figurines that he makes dance a waltz.
Of course, one need not think about these issues much to enjoy the film. Parigi has done a remarkable job making an independent, low budget artwork. It was shot on Super 16 and looks great. The production design is excellent (a real standout is when Kenneth is awarded an office of his own), and Parigi's direction is impeccable. You can easily enjoy the film from the thriller/horror aspect alone. On that end, the film is full of increasing tension, it's occasionally and effectively visceral, and it has a nicely surprising ending. Don't miss this one.
This film is very well written, directed, acted and executed. It contains
some great humor. It works on multiple levels and has a lot of symbols (if
Parigi was Lynch's pupil the master would be proud of him). However the film
is very depressing, probably the most depressing I have seen in a while. And
I being a big fan of dark comedies, do not get depressed
I left the film in a very bad mood, a dire need of a strong drink and desire to see a silly comedy, action, romance - anything to get rid of the aftertaste...
I would recommend it to an emotionally stable connoisseur, though...
In Los Angeles, the loneliness and efficient technical writer Kenneth
Winslow (Desmond Harrington) is challenged to write three long
technical manuals in a very short period. His boss Novak (Rip Torn)
assigns the temporary typist Lisa Bellmer (Melissa Sagemiller) to help
him in the task. In the office, Kenneth's colleagues show him an
expensive rubber sex doll called "Nikki" in Internet, and Kenneth
decides to buy it. When Nikki is delivered, the snoopy manager of his
building becomes curious with the huge package. Kenneth reads Nikki's
manual and uses the image of Lisa to give a sort of "personality" to
the doll and he starts practicing kink sex and becomes obsessed with
Nikki. Meanwhile, Lisa feels out of place in the office, Kenneth helps
her and they get close to each other, having a love affair and the
disturbed Kenneth gets rid off the doll. When Lisa finds Nikki's
brochure in the volume one of the manual, the world of the twisted
Kenneth falls apart and Kenneth becomes completely deranged with tragic
"Love Object" is an excellent weird tale of loneliness, obsession and horror, with a great screenplay and direction and a potential cult-movie. The dark story has a touch of David Lynch inclusive with some bizarre characters, like Kenneth and the owner of the sex shop. Desmond Harrington has a stunning performance developing perfectly his deranged and scary character. The extremely gorgeous Melissa Sagemiller is also great in the role of the insecure temporary employee that feels uncomfortable in the company with her colleagues. The surprising conclusion is a plus in this highly recommended movie. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Olhos da Morte" ("Eyes of the Death")
Love Object received an incognito release a few years back, and this is
unfortunate as what we have here is a film that takes a very basic idea
(albeit one that I've not seen used before) and crafts and inventive
and somewhat frightening little film out of it. The only film really
similar to this that I can think of is Lucky McKee's oddball gem 'May',
which seems to be gaining more and more fans all the time; and this
makes Love Object's releasing all the more unfortunate, as this is a
film that could definitely win itself a dedicated cult following. The
film focuses on Kenneth Winslow - he's an everyday guy with an everyday
sort of job at a place that prints instruction manuals. His life takes
a turn one day when his co-workers introduce him to Nikki - a lifelike
doll on sale on the internet for a whopping $10,000. He decides to buy
the doll, and after becoming acquainted with it - quickly falls in
love. However, he's also starting to get on with his lovely female
co-worker...and this 'upsets' his $10,000 plastic love object, leading
to the emergence of a strange love triangle.
Going into this film; I was worried that the plot might not be able to stretch the running time - but there's enough else going on to ensure that Love Object doesn't become boring. The production values are high considering that this obviously wasn't a big budget film, and the acting is also rather good. The central performance is delivered by a shy looking Desmond Harrington, and he has good chemistry with his female co-star, Melissa Sagemiller. To the cult fan, however, the most interesting performance in the movie comes from Udo Kier - and while he's not really given the opportunity to make a big mark on the film, it's always good to see him. Rip Torn also plays a part, and along with Kier; makes the movie more memorable. Director Robert Parigi gets the audience into the film because the people in it are largely very realistic; the leads aren't overly good/bad looking and they don't have unlikely jobs, so the film is easy to get on with for normal people who have never spent any time with a sex doll. The film seems like it should have a point...but if there is one, I couldn't detect it. "Don't have sex with a rubber doll" is about the best I can do on that front. However, the film is interesting throughout and ends with a good twist...so Love Object definitely comes recommended.
This movie goes into a little visited horror neighborhood: the realm of
the creepy living mannequin. Up to this point, the best examples of
this type of thriller would be Woody from "Fear" and "Pin" but Robert
Parigi manages to deliver a more complex story than either of those
This creepy flick has a wonderfully depraved sensibility and seems to be marching to the tune of Roman Polanski's "Repulsion". Acting is solid throughout, and even Rip Torn seems restrained from his normal cartoonish antics. Rather than going for jump scares, this movie goes for a slow build of dread and suspense. There are a couple of good cringes in the movie, and it's definitely worth a watch.
LOVE OBJECT is a very cool, original film. Basic premise: Kenneth works at a company that writes owners manuals for products. He's the best in the biz but he has a big project coming up and his boss (played by the legendary Rip Torn) gets him an assistant. Kenneth doesn't want an assistant but the boss-man insists, and it turns out the assistant is kinda hot, so after a while, Kenneth doesn't mind quite so much. In fact, Kenneth starts to date the assistant, but Kenneth isn't all-together in the head. He buys a "real-life" sex doll to act out his fantasies on, and eventually the doll starts taking over his life, including talking to and stalking him. It just gets weirder from there, building to LOVE OBJECT's pretty cool climax. This is a strange little film that hasn't really gotten enough credit. It's well acted, kinda creepy, and very original. There's no real gore to speak of, so those looking for ultra-violence can pass this one up. But for something different, give this one a shot. This film kinda reminds me of the film MAY, in the fact that they're both small, strange films that most people either really like or really don't, with not much middle-ground. Personally, I like both and recommend taking a look at LOVE OBJECT 8/10
An young, terminally shy young man by the name of Kenneth (Desmond
Harrington) is working for a Major Computer Company. His life is about
to change, when his boss (Rip Torn) offers him a big bonus if he could
make the changes of a complicated computer system. Usually Kenneth
works alone but his boss makes him work with an young attractive woman
by the name of Lisa (Melissa Sagemiller). Then Kenneth's Co-Workers
(Brad William Henke & John Cassini) shows a Picture of a
Photo-Realistic Sex Doll.
Then Kenneth finds this Sex Doll fascinating. So he decides to order the Sex Doll by bringing out his shyness towards woman. Also Kenneth has a crush on his co-worker Lisa. Once he receives the Sex Doll-Nikki, Kenneth makes the doll dress like Lisa and almost having a realistic romantic relationship with the doll. The one morning, Kenneth is completely changed and he can't tell from reality. Thinking that Nikki is alive in his mind. Kenneth has to find out, what is best for him. Is it the sex doll-Nikki or His attractive co-worker.
Written and Directed by Robert Parigi made a clever darkly funny thriller. Which this is Parigi's first film. Harrington gives an outstanding performance as Kenneth. Sagemiller is Cute as his beautiful co-worker (Sex-Doll Nikki from the Film is actually model after her). Cult Star:Udo Kier also has a bit part as the landlord.
This extremely low budget production was filmed in 18 days. This film is extremely well directed. This was Originally a Direct to Video Project but it got briefly released in theaters and film festivals. The Film won different awards from Three Festivals including tree for the director:Parigi for Intertional Critics Award, Premiere Award and Best Original Screenplay at the Gérardmer Film Festival and Malaga Intertional Week of Fantastic Cinema. Hannington won for Best Actor at the Malaga Intertional Week of Fantastic Cinema. Film Composer:Nicolas Pike won the Elmer Bernstein award at the Woodstock Film Festival.
DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) transfer and an great-Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD has two commentary tracks from the Cast and the Director:Parigi. DVD also has Four Featurettes, which they are entertaining. This film will go on to be a Cult Favorite. The film is a bit familiar to Lucky McKee's Underrated Black Comedy-May. This is a very good and unusual film. Great music score by Nicolas Pike (Stephen King's Sleepwalkers). One of the film's Executive Producers is Edward R. Pressman (Conan:The Barbarian, The Crow, Wall Street). (****/*****).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
''Love Object '' starts looking an average movie, showing the weird and
lonely Kenneth Winslow, a technical writer, who starts having a bizarre
obsession by Nikki, a rubber sex doll that he ordered, while developing
a crush in his assistant Lisa. Kenneth goes to the point of talking,
arguing and even feeling "stalked" by Nikki, and that's when the
bizarre things starts to happen in his behavior.
The cool thing about this movie ,is the end,that is totally unexpected and the total opposite that you could believe that would happen. That's why I give this movie the nice vote of 7, because the plot itself, is very simple and nothing special.
The good message present, is that many people who look 'normal' or calm, like Kenneth, can have bad intentions behind their acts and even act like maniacs,while others can make us have false judgments about them, but are good people, like Kenneth's landlord, who tries to help Lisa from Kenneth's sick ideas of transforming her into Nikki.
Oh, Kenneth, Kenneth, Kenneth (Desmond Harrington). What a loser.
Hiding in the closet to listen to your neighbor have sex when the new
girl (Melissa Sagemiller) is just as lonely as you. Step up there, boy,
and get some action.
Kenneth decides to try something different. A $10,000 plastic doll. Yep, they are real (On sale at http://ultradolls.com/).
Kenneth's relationship with the doll reflects his real feeling for Lisa (Sagemiller), and soon he has enough nerve to make a move. But, as things progress with Lisa, he starts imagining that his doll is jealous and, after a bad night with Lisa, he takes a drastic and horrible step.
This is when things gets really weird, and exciting at the same time. He snaps completely and just when we think he is toast, he manages to have heaven intervene and save him. I can't say more than that without giving away the plot, but it certainly was well done.
Rip Torn was great as his boss, and Udo Kier played an excellent role.
Looking for more from first time writer/director Robert Parigi.
Love Object is a truly unique piece of horror. It's an unsettling film about a lonely guy who takes an unnatural liking to a "real doll." It's basically an ultra-realistic blow up doll...and very creepy I might add. But, when Kenneth falls in love with the new girl at work the doll does not take the news so well. I really don't want to go into the plot details here because the movie is kind of a slow burn that only works once (I've went back and watched it again and it's just not as interesting the second time). The ending is still fantastic though. What makes it work so well are the performances of Desmond Harrington and Melissa Sagemiller. Harrington is one brave actor; not at all afraid to just go for it. I can't imagine too many actors tackling this role. And Sagemiller is really putting herself out there as well. Rip Torn and Udo Kier put in some fun character work too. I recommend viewing Love Object at least once to see there are still good movies being made that don't get a wide theatrical release. A word of warning to the director though: people HATE alarm clocks and the sound that they make. I take away some points for the use of alarm clocks.
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