It’s not you, it’s your genetics.
Sasha Collington’s debut feature explores the possibility of a genetic predisposition to an unhappy love-life. If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t hold a relationship down, then Love Type D might have the answer. The good news is that it’s not your fault, the bad news is you will have to track down, date and re-break up with every single person who has ever broken your heart.
Frankie, (Meave Dermody) is broken up with by the eleven-year-old brother of her current boyfriend Thomas (Oliver Farnworth)— which is tragic— but even more worrisome, it is her twelfth dumping in a row. Determined to break the never-ending cycle of heart-break, Frankie turns to Wilbur, (Rory Stroud) the exuberant and scientifically minded boy who delivered his cowardly older brother’s dumping. Wilbur informs Frankie of new scientific research which points to a love gene, a gene which splits society into two distinctive categories, dumpers and dumpees. Dumpers navigate through the dating world with ease, before finally settling down with that perfect special someone, whereas, dumpees, or those who possess the ‘Type D’ gene, are doomed to relive the same cycle of brief romances and brutal break-ups; there are no exceptions.
After testing positive for the ‘Type D’ gene, Frankie seems ready to accept a barren and loveless future. Then Wilbur, who has become something of an unlikely sidekick, offers her his own scientific theory: if behaviour really does affect gene expression, perhaps revisiting the past could alter the biology and transition someone from the dumpee to the dumper. Wilbur encourages Frankie to track down all of her ex-loves and make them fall in love with her again, but this time around break their hearts before they get the chance to break hers. Yet, reaching out to and seducing her past lovers proves a much more difficult job than initially anticipated.
Love Type D bends the terms of reality to rebel against the cliché tropes of the average romantic comedy. Frankie lives in an exaggerated version of reality, in which creating love-potions and dating from beyond the grave are daily occurrences. Although the rules of Collington’s fabricated reality are hazy within the first act, once she firmly establishes her alternative world, we are free to enjoy her charming and disobedient narrative. The more elaborate and unbelievable elements of the film serve to highlight the ridiculousness of society’s obsession with finding their one true soul-mate. Collington presents the alarming and outrageous behaviour synonymous with romantic comedies and chick-flicks in a new light, exposing the downfalls of the modern dating world and highlighting the extreme measures people often take when in pursuit of love. Collington nods to the droves of people who willingly put dating before their careers and mental health; those who are possibly chasing a concept that doesn’t exist.
Love Type D began life as a short-film titled Lunch Date, which Collington funded via the crowd-funding website Kickstarter. The film, in which a young boy breaks up with his older brother’s girlfriend, proved a hit on the festival circuit and its success inspired Collington to adapt her script into a feature. Once Love Type D completed shooting, Collington returned to Kickstarter to raise money for post-production costs, determined to finish a movie which was undoubtedly a labour of love. Collington’s well-documented passion for the project might explain the slightly over-indulgent narrative, her unnecessary overuse of sub-plot and side gags waste time. The run-time is just a smidge too long and some of her supporting characters a pinch underdeveloped. However, these clunky scenes are carried along by Dermody and Stroud, who share a delightful and endearing chemistry. Although Frankie is the elder of the pair, Dermody plays her with childlike naivety and gives her a petulant streak more fitting of a mopey teenager. In contrast to this, Wilbur is delivered by Stroud with the intelligence and demeanour more fitting of a middle-aged man. Their role reversal plays out beautifully, giving the film its satirical and genuinely emotional core.
Collington has curated a movie with a unique sense of style and flair. The movie’s eccentric and colourful iconography feels unusual from the get-go, the cinematography by Christopher Schneider, costume design by Mimi Milburn-Foster and production design by Judith Thompson, creates an atmosphere that is both quintessentially British, yet distinctively dream-like and outlandish. Their rebellion against the traditional format of the romantic comedy invites audiences of all tastes. Collington encourages us to re-examine the questionable and unhealthy behaviour we often see normalised in the light heartedness of the typical rom-com and picks apart the myth of the perfect partner. Audiences are encouraged to rely on their individual qualities and personalities, instead of putting their faith in preordained soul-mates and significant others.
It’s fabulous to see a woman film-maker play around with and rebel against a genre which has created an abundance of unrealistic goals and standards for its female audiences. Although its eccentricity might turn off some moviegoers, to dismiss Love Type D as just another quirky submission into the Rom-Com cannon would be a great injustice. The film is charming, stand-alone and exactly my type on paper.
Love Type D played at Manchester International Film Festival on March 15th
by Leoni Horton
Leoni Horton (She/Her) has a dog named Bill Murray and a Master’s Degree in Writing For The Screen. She spends most of her time thinking about her next cup of coffee, or which Safdie Brother would make the best boyfriend. Some of her favourite films include Blue Velvet, The Apartment and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Leoni can be found on Twitter and Letterboxd at @inoelshikari.