A story of full-time losers, “Love Is Like That” is enough to give love a bad name. First-time director Jill Goldman sets her tale of amour fou in the grubby nether regions of Los Angeles, but offers no artistic or psychological reward to the audience for tolerating the protagonist’s endless succession of wrong moves and idiotic decisions. Commercial prospects for this indie effort are marginal.
Goldman takes an aesthetically gritty approach to scenarist George Gary’s fringe-dwelling characters, but their personalities and the words put in their mouths are too mild and banal to provoke much interest.
In a low-life meet-cute, hapless gas station attendant Lenny (Tom Sizemore) walks away from his job to chauffeur a stranded foxy lady, Eloise (Pamela Gidley), to a job interview.
Back at her place, they get it on immediately, beginning a relationship that soon bears the sweet earmarks of true love, and for both of them provides the comfort of a protective cocoon from the harsh outside world.
Trouble is, Lenny is a thoroughgoing jerk determined to find the quickest way to sabotage any good thing he manages to stumble onto.
His uncle (Seymour Cassel) keeps setting him up in jobs that Lenny invariably botches. Lenny also flies into unprovoked jealous hysterics over Eloise’s former relationships, sneaking looks at her old photos and letters and even asking her which guys were responsible for which stains on the mattress.
While Lenny is blowing one job after another (a porno shoot he works on even gets raided), Eloise becomes assistant to a wealthy movie star (Jennifer O’Neill), whose dictated autobiographical reminiscences include how she once starred on Broadway in “The Seagull.”
Lenny and Eloise break up and get back together, but when he brings home a new mattress, it isn’t long until it’s repossessed. Soon, their financial situation is so dire that they’re evicted from her apartment. They sleep on the beach for awhile, their love seemingly intact, but in an attempt at one big score, Lenny commits a crime so appalling as to confirm that he’s an even bigger moron than one has suspected from the beginning.
The violent climax, vaguely anarchic attitude and Gidley’s Jean Seberg haircut prompt the idea that Goldman and Gary might have been aspiring to a “Breathless” equivalent for the 1990s.
A few of the more tender moments have a certain appeal, and there is some good humor on the porno set when the director yells instructions that the lead actor is physically unable to follow.
But there is scant insight into why people get involved in such hopeless, self-destructive relationships, and evocation of society’s margins isn’t achieved with much specificity or relevance.
Okay thesping by Sizemore and Gidley can’t overcome the characters’ inertia and wrong-headed decisions. Tech credits are on the raw side.