Love Object (2003)

So, the story goes a little something like this; a socially inept young man; Kenneth Winslow, who works in a office, decides to purchase a life-like sex doll, which he fashions to look like his new colleague and crush. When she takes an interest in him and the reality doesn’t quite meet the fantasy, things start to go awry….

It’s been a long time since I enjoyed a movie as much as I enjoyed Love Object. Although, maybe ‘enjoyed’ isn’t quite the correct word to use for a film involving so much dysfunction and depravity; appreciated, perhaps.

It plays out a little like a more twisted version of May with the gender roles reversed and a dash of Lars and The Real Girl thrown in for good measure. From the very first frame, I was sucked into Kenneth’s sad little World, where I remained until the credits rolled. Robert Parigi, who both wrote and directed, has done a wonderful job of creating a woozy, dream-like state in which his characters dwell. Desmond Harrington has done an equally good job in fleshing out the lead role; never for a second did I doubt that he was a man who was fast approaching a severe mental breakdown.

I think the most notable element of the film though, has to be the score. The underlying swells and falls of eerie pianos, sad violins and jarring synthesisers serve to make the viewer very uneasy and cause a great sense of forboding. It’s a big compliment to whoever orchestrated this to say that I suspect you could turn off the picture and still follow the progression of the film and the moods of each particular scene without the aid of the visuals. The music creates an air of uncomfortable melancholy which had me squirming in my seat and becoming increasingly tense and anxious as the film neared its conclusion.

There are also a few recurring motifs throughout the film, most obvious of which is that everyone our protagonist comes into contact with is marred by hideous deformities or unsightly birthmarks and blemishes. I can only imagine this was to serve as a reminder that while searching for perfection, he is surrounded by imperfection at every turn and that truth is uglier than imagination. It could also be to highlight the grotesque and uninviting world of S & M and sexual deviancy as seen through our heroes (or perhaps anti-heroes) eyes.

My main, and only real, complaint with Love Object is that not all of the acting is up to scratch and that some of the characters are under-used; most importantly Udo Kier as Kenneth’s next door neighbour, who never quite gets the screen time he deserves. There was also little in the way of gore but I think anymore than absolutely necessary would have been out of place in a film of this nature. It was best kept to a minimum, most of the scares being derived from what might be about to take place and not what you actually see on screen.

That being said, these minor niggles never really distract from an otherwise excellent flick. Do yourself a favour and seek out this little-seen gem.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

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