Not to be confused with sex addicts, the hapless protagonists of “Love Addict” take emotional dependency to delusional, destructive, sometimes borderline-demented extremes, attempting to fill some bottomless personal void with another person — no matter how ill-suited that person may be. Such behavior’s train-wreck fascination makes Pernille Rose Gronkjaer’s slick docu hard to turn away from. Still, one might reflect afterward that the cases chronicled yield more voyeuristic entertainment than general insight, and that the helmer’s somewhat deceptively intermingled dramatizations further lay her open to accusations of exploitation in upmarket guise. English-language Danish feature will mostly attract tube buyers.
Focusing, for no obvious reason, exclusively on American subjects, the pic finds dysfunction aplenty in the likes of 38-year-old Tracy Cooley, who admits she had three children just to hold onto their (long-gone) father, and now is supporting a much younger man whose attention span isn’t likely to sustain their relationship much longer.
Another Tracy Shields is interviewed alongside her on/off beau, Georg Orginos, who mostly rolls his eyes in silence as she says he’s the right guy for her, but his unwillingness to “shrink down into that little box” of ideal qualities she requires has put their love on hold. When he finally gets a word in, he says being the object of her perfectionist demands felt like being “a bug about to be squashed.”
California musician Christian Wentz is in recovery from co-dependency issues, though something seems very off about his long-distance attachment to a Midwestern woman (seen in photos that look awfully like professional portfolio images). Manhattan actress Adelaide Mestre recalls her complete meltdown after a boyfriend jumped ship.
Most compellingly grotesque is the saga of Eliza Bichmann, seen videotaping her obsessive pursuit of a man she discusses as if they were lovers, but whom in fact she’s barely met — and he’s married, besides. Her stalking grows increasingly creepy until he finally responds in a torrent of answering-machine abuse (following umpteen hysterical messages from her). By that point, the viewer may already have some serious doubts about whether this segment is real, re-enacted or what. Still, it seems rather a cheat when the final credits reveal it was indeed staged (Bichmann and Pryor Jf are principal actors), albeit purportedly “based on true stories.”
For all the lurid interest its subjects compel, “Love Addict” never really defines its titular condition, lacks experts weighing in to provide context, and provides little insight into recovery processes. (One larger truth that does slip through is the fact that most of the participants cite difficult, unloved childhoods.) Docu’s assembly, especially in visual terms, is as slick as that of a narrative feature, which also heightens a certain queasy sense of manipulation.
Pic is also available in an hourlong edit for broadcast, as “Love Addict: Not a Love Story.”