Love Is Not Love
Stars: Stephen Keep Mills, Alejandra Gollas, Louise Martin, Tonya Cornelisse, Russell Simpson and Cameron Tagge
Director/Scriptwriter: Stephen Keep Mills
Composer: Kinny Landrom
Cinematography: Steven Fadellin
Rating: NR but could be PG 13 with themed material
Running length: 95 Minutes
What is love? Many things to many people, and director/scriptwriter/actor Stephen Keep Mills presents the subject in a black and white film. A taste of the Forties when light and shadows were actors as much as the flesh and blood actors. Actually, this film was shot on a California sound stage, but the ambiance of being is New York City is well done. Kudos to Cinematographer Steven Fadellin. Mills portrays Frank, a past-middle age man who is hesitant as to what his next step in life will be.
The audience discovers that Frank is having a “friendship” with a younger woman, Reyna (Alejandra Gollas) at her apartment. This encounter begins as a teasing relationship, but we sense it is much more for Frank, who is aging and trying to grasp youth again. While this is going on, Frank and his wife, Paula (Louise Martin) have the push-and-shove of marriage worked out to the final dot on a page. She provokes him at every turn, while he glosses over her comments and keeps on going. It has worked for them so far. It is when the meetings between Frank and Reyna become frequent and she starts sending him photos of herself and her pet dog (a scene-stealing canine) that their relationship starts becoming serious and at this point...what to do?
It takes the first third of the film to figure out what is going on. We settle on a character to follow and that turns out to be Frank. The narrator hinders the audience and does not help. The exquisite black and white shadow and light effect doesn’t work here. When Frank goes to Reyna’s apartment, the situation turns lovely with Reyna leading the way for the shy Frank. These sections of the film are well done, as are the scenes with Frank and his wife, whether sitting quietly or arguing, something is going on here. Learned behavior between them, and will it end at some point or continue?
The actors do well, with Stephen Keep Mills as a shy man who would seem to have a vulnerable side. His face is stoic but his eyes are alive to what is happening. Reyna knows what to do to bring Frank into her world, and a friendly dog is a help. Alejandra Gollas plays Reyna as a woman who is a leader. Louise Martin as Frank’s wife, Paula, has seen it all and fallen on the side of “men can’t do anything right.” Just don’t get her started and Martin’s stares could melt steel.
What is distracting are the references to film directors Frank would hope, someday, could direct a film about his life. Sam Peckinpah? Or will this be Film 2 in the adventures of Frank? With the exception of the narrators, I found “Love Is Not Love” to be an interesting venture into the loneliness of a past-middle-age man as he tries to grasp the gold ring that is youth just one more time. Women are available, but as with youth, there is no permanency. Black and white photography brings out the loneliness that life sometimes has, like feeling as though you are invisible in a crowd, and for a brief moment, hope that someone turns and smiles at you. Such is the story of Frank.
Copyright 2020 Marie Asner