Review: ‘Death in Love’

Boaz Yakin's "Death in Love" is as ambitious as it is stultifying and deadly to watch.

Apparently so personal that it feels as though it were hatched in a hermetically sealed capsule, Boaz Yakin’s “Death in Love” is as ambitious as it is stultifying and deadly to watch. So distant from Yakin’s fine breakthrough, “Fresh,” that it seems to be from a different solar system, family drama involving the psychological legacy of the Holocaust is stymied by arch, stagy dialogue, bizarre characterizations and ultra-chilly filmmaking. Beyond harshly received Sundance preem, prospects are flatline all the way.

A young Jewish woman in a concentration camp (Emma Bell) falls in love with a Nazi doctor (Carrington Vilmont), whose extreme surgeries on Jewish victims are viewed in sudden, shocking inserts. Interlaced with this sketched-in relationship is pic’s central drama in the 1990s involving a dislikable, temper-prone mother — the young woman now verging on older age (Jacqueline Bisset) — and her emotionally stunted sons (Josh Lucas and Lukas Haas). While Lucas’ guy hops from bed to bed (and frequently masturbates in between) and has erotic torture sessions with boss/semi-g.f. (Vanessa Kai), Haas’ younger brother is isolated and introverted. Good thesps look and sound awkward throughout.

Death in Love

Production

A Boaz Yakin production. (International sales: CAA, Los Angeles.) Produced by Boaz Yakin, Joseph N. Zolfo. Co-producer, Alma Har'el. Directed, written by Boaz Yakin.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Frederik Jacobi; editor, John Lyons; music, Lesley Barber; music supervisor, Ben Goldberg; production designer, Dara Wishingrad; costume designer, Sue Gandy. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Premieres), Jan. 22, 2008. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Josh Lucas, Jacqueline Bisset, Lukas Haas, Morena Baccarin, Betty Gilpin, Vanessa Kai, Emma Bell, Carrington Vilmont, Adam Brody. (English, German, French dialogue)

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