A review of Love Story (Florian Habicht, 2011)
I went to see Florian Habicht’s (Kaikohe Demolition, Land of the Long White Cloud) latest film, Love Story, on Sunday night. This film, which was screened on the opening night of the New Zealand Film Festival, is really all about chance encounters and falling in love in New York City: at first glance, it’s the tale of how Florian (he plays himself in the film – or does he?) falls in love with a Russian girl holding a piece of cake that he meets on the subway. At the same time, it’s also the tale of how the people you meet in a place like New York can construct your experience (or your ‘story’) of being there.
Basically, Florian meets this beautiful girl fleetingly, loses her, and sets off on a quest to re-find and then woo her. As he’s doing so, he traipses the streets of New York, handy-cam in hand, and asks the people he comes across how they think his story should unfold. ‘What would it mean to you if a girl was holding a piece of cake?’ he asks random passers-by. ‘It means she wants your body,’ one guy tells him. ‘It’s lust,’ another lady says. ‘Do you believe in love?’ Florian asks one girl. ‘No,’she says. ‘It’s just chemicals. Your brain’s flooded with chemicals and you’re pretty much on drugs. How can you think straight like that?’
He walks in on people in the middle of their meals in restaurants. He jumps, completely uninvited, in a cab with a woman he’s never met before. He stops a gorgeous trannie who’s sauntering past him on the street. He asks a homeless guy whose moustache is glistening with snot about the first time he fell in love. This, I think, is the beauty of this movie. It’s a collage of all the personalities you find in a big city and it’s a celebration of that diversity. The entire film is imbued with Florian’s own infectious enthusiasm for life, and it’s hard to watch without this enthusiasm rubbing off.
The session I went to was actually followed by a Q & A session with Florian. The thing he mentioned that really stuck with me was the fact that he genuinely met every person on the film for the first time through the lens of his camera. How cool is that? Not only is the film a montage of personalities, it’s also a collection of first meetings: those moments that are full of all the hope and excitement you feel when you’re teetering on the edge of a new friendship.
Love Kimberley x