“Love Song,” MTV’s third venture into the original TV movie business, boasts more style than substance, but it’s the kind of entertaining musical fantasy that should play well to the ever-evolving and diversifying MTV audience.
Created as a star vehicle for Grammy-winning singer Monica (here listed with both a first and last name), “Love Song” is your basic pop music fairy tale; when deconstructed, it’s about as relevant as a Rex Smith or Rick Springfield pic from the early ’80s.
Still, the music net should be given credit for taking a pedestrian tale and making it as lively and as visually appealing as this. David Claessen’s flawless lensing style is in keeping with director Julie Dash’s lush visions of life in New Orleans. Dash, whose theatrical debut “Daughters of the Dust” garnered acclaim for its haunting visual style, proves she has retained her artful eye for detail.
Josslyn Luckett’s script, while rooted firmly in the traditional love story, works in issues of family and peer pressure as well class concerns among African Americans. Something of a younger generation’s version of “Waiting to Exhale,” this modern princess tale has beautiful castles in a spotless kingdom where even off-campus housing is to be envied.
Arnold stars as Camille, an Xavier U. student who is repressed by her surgeon father’s expectations, which include a similar career in medicine and marriage to the stable yet drab Calvin (Rainbow Sun Francks).
When Camille meets up and coming jazz musician Billy Ryan (Christian Kane), he opens her eyes not only to new experiences, but also to her own real desires. The fact that theirs is an interracial love is touched upon, but the real issue at hand is following your dreams instead of someone else’s goals.
“Love Song” is peppered with long meaningful looks and beautiful people, and it’s nice to see an MTV project that doesn’t tout sex so much as romance. In fact, it’s almost a third of the way through the pic before the first juicy kiss between Camille and Billy.
Arnold is appealing as Camille, with a smooth-as-silk voice and looks to rival those of any supermodel. Although she proves a capable actress, she isn’t really challenged much emotionally by the material. Equally attractive, Kane is charming and sexy as Ryan, and the two generate believable chemistry.
Supporting perfs by Essence Atkins and Rachel True as Camille’s roommates Toni and Renee round out the story nicely, while Vanessa Bell Calloway provides a classy touch as Camille’s sympathetic and understanding mother.
Slick tech credits are designed to generate maximum atmosphere and are greatly enhanced by Pam Malouf’s calculated but restrained editing style.