The Symmetry of Love

Monodimensional character work and tin-eared dialogue generate little interest in characters.

With:
With: Giles Alderson, Catherine Kenyon, Jemma Powell, Matthew Butler, Alix Wilton Regan, Luke de Lacey, Zafreen, Viola Newbury, Katia Winter. (English dialogue)

Any film featuring sexy young Brit thesps playing professionals falling in and out of love should equal a surefire crowd-pleaser, but “The Symmetry of Love” shows that the math isn’t so simple. Monodimensional character work and tin-eared dialogue generate little interest in these people and their issues, leaving the film looking dressed up with nowhere to go. But the pic still retains enough style in its chic, minimalist backdrop to seduce auds in search of lightweight musings on love and friendship, and has been picked up for U.S. distribution by Vanguard Cinema.

Journalist Alex (Catherine Kenyon) finds a notebook on the sidewalk, dropped there by architect Kyle (Giles Alderson), formerly married to psychoanalyst Elizabeth (Jemma Powell), who is back in London after the death of her wealthy older husband. On returning the notebook to Kyle, Alex falls for him. Meanwhile, struggling novelist Richard (Matthew Butler), a client of Elizabeth’s, earns money by dressing up as a mariachi and selling chocolate.

Richard awkwardly asks Jane (Alix Wilton Regan) out to dinner, but the sweet-faced Jane is into sadomasochism, which soon becomes too much for him. Jane also is also flirting online with Kyle’s friend, married Enzo (Luke de Lacey).

“The Symmetry of Love” is presumably intended to be a witty dissection of those funny old pent-up Brits trying to handle their emotions, but it’s no “Notting Hill.” The characters never seem to exist outside the demands of this particular story, so they only come alive in brief flashes, and end up seeming inert and self-obsessed. Only Enzo comes across as genuinely likable, while Richard (a highly mannered perf by producer Butler) just irritates.

Thesps struggle gamely with dialogue that seems to have been translated from another language with little attention to nuance, either regional or personal, so that everyone communicates in the same stilted, standard English. (Gems include “I booked a table at the best restaurant in town” and “I think we work amazingly well together.”) When Richard’s luck changes and his novel is to be made into a movie, Brad Pitt wants to be the star. All this is delivered straight-faced.

Full of airily pastel hues, pic is shot in a variety of London locations, which Pete Wallington’s lensing deftly renders romantically Parisian. The thickly laid-on score, whose cheesiness completely sabotages several scenes, is strangely at odds with the otherwise stripped-back nature of the production; a few attractively upbeat pop-soul songs by Garrett Wall reflect the pic’s mood more accurately.

The Symmetry of Love

Spain-U.K.

Production: A Vanguard Cinema (in U.S.) release of a Flea Market Pictures production in association with Eulalie Prods. (International sales: Flea Market Pictures, London.) Produced by Aitor Gaizka, Viola Newbury, Matthew Butler. Directed, written by Aitor Gaizka.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Pete Wallington; editor, Jose Manuel Jimenez; music, Jose Sanchez-Sanz, Garrett Wall; production designer, Marie Lanna; costume designer, Rachel Farrimond; sound (Dolby Digital), Jose Luis Alcaine Bartolome. Reviewed on DVD, Madrid, Dec. 21, 2010. Running time: 78 MIN.

With: With: Giles Alderson, Catherine Kenyon, Jemma Powell, Matthew Butler, Alix Wilton Regan, Luke de Lacey, Zafreen, Viola Newbury, Katia Winter. (English dialogue)

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