Almost Love, the feature directorial debut from actor-turned-filmmaker Mike Doyle is an often playful but sometimes overly serious look at the shelf life of even the best of relationships. We enter this universe of a romantic couple through artist Adam (Scott Evans) and influencer (whatever the hell that means) Marklin (Augustus Prew), a gay couple five years strong who are coping with Marlin’s booming fame and Adam’s life as a ghost painter for an older female artist who pays him to allow her to take credit for his work. He has his own ambitions as an artist which are being put on indefinite hold, and it’s frustrating to him and causing friction in the relationship. Marlkin wants to take the plunge into buying a place together, which scares Adam for no particular reason. Meanwhile, the other couples around them are falling to pieces leaving them no role models for solving their own problems.
Best friend Cammy (Michelle Buteau) has just started dating a really great guy (Colin Donnell), and just when she starts to believe she could fall in love with him, he reveals that he’s homeless, moving from friend’s couch to couch (and sometimes even landing in a shelter), so she’s forced to make the decision as to whether to break things off or ask him to move in with her. This relationship was the funniest to observe, since you can tell Cammy doesn’t want to be accused of being judgmental by breaking up with him just because he’s homeless, but that’s totally what she wants to do.
The longest running relationship of the bunch belongs to Elizabeth (Kate Walsh) and Damon (Chaz Lamar Shepherd), who are just about to call it quits after being married for 15 years. This coupling is the least explored and therefore the least interesting of the bunch. The lone wolf of Almost Love is Haley (Zoe Chao, recently seen in Downhill), a high school teacher whose 17-year-old (almost 18) student has a serious crush on her, and she’s just lonely enough that she might break the rules (and the law) to do something about it. Yes, this film has boundary issues.
Like many films that attempt to blend comedy and drama in a romantic setting (this is not a romantic-comedy, to be clear), Almost Love has populated its story with characters that don’t resemble real people with real-world problems. It’s like watching a sitcom and a television drama dancing, but they keep stepping on the other’s toes. The resulting film is a clunky work that approximates life without actually reflecting it. There are a few moments of clarity and truth, but they don’t last long and seem so out of place in this exceedingly surface-level take on relationships. People let us know they’re troubled by acting like assholes, and nobody really calls them on it or offers any counter behavior to stand as an example of how to rise above such behavior. Now that I think about it, just about everyone in this movie acts like an asshole.
The Adam-Marklin relationship is the only one that was in any danger of pulling me in, but just when I started to become invested in them, they start talking about their work, and it pulled me right out. The ways these two make money are ridiculous, and Almost Love is almost as ridiculous. These sketches of people taught me nothing about life or love, and barely engaged me in their soap opera-like lives. In fact, the more I think about it, the less I like this movie.
The film is now available on all cable VOD and digital platforms (including Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, FandangoNOW, etc.)
Did you enjoy this post? Please consider supporting Third Coast Review’s arts and culture coverage by becoming a patron. Choose the amount that works best for you, and know how much we appreciate your support!