A kaleidoscope of amour both good and bad distinguishes Johnny Kalangis’ fascinating “Love Is Work,” intimately observing five couples’ clashing desires at separate tables in a stylish Toronto restaurant. Only at end credits does the pic reveal the 10 actors delivered their perfs without a script, rehearsals and retakes, spinning off Kalangis’ skeletal story. Result will satisfy fest auds, but without major tech refinements (especially in the sound department), further commercial prospects are dim.
Couples are artfully intercut in their shared initial niceties, followed by revelations of deeper emotional currents. These include an author’s (Ryan McVittie) suspicions about his lover’s (Kathryn Zenna) faithfulness, and a man’s (Kalangis) concern for an (off-screen) special needs boy that seems to outweigh that for his fiancee (Joa Gamelin). A first date at another table proves disastrous, as the woman (Shauna MacDonald) clearly expects a wild night of sex, while her younger beau (Fabrizio Fillippo) isn’t so sure. Kalangis’ ensemble is agile at improvisation. Pic deploys dense cinematic technique, including dreamy-looking split-screens.