Reportedly budgeted at $95.51 and produced completely by one man, writer/director/cinematographer/editor and sole star Zachary Oberzan does with one camera, a computer, a 220-foot Manhattan apartment and the novel First Blood what most 10 year olds with a camcorder and action figures dream about. Less indebted to the explosions and gunfights that made the half-smart, 1982, testosterone-festival, First Blood, so popular, Flooding with Love is similarly based on the first appearance of John Rambo, the highly trained Green Beret operative that went postal after surviving a Vietnamese POW camp and is chased by police through the woods of Kentucky. Since the film cost the maker so little (excluding worker fees, obviously) it seems like anything is profit, therefore numbers can only be fantastic. But, on a more commonplace scale, numbers will be modest…unless the film hits Rocky Horror status, which I think is highly possible. Since it’s only seeing one theater in New York keyed in cinefiles could make the DVD release a good profit zone.
The story itself features a lot of prescient commentary on the camaraderie of veterans, the corruption of Vietnam (as compared to earlier wars, particularly Korea) and the liberal/conservative divide over the subjects of war and authority during the era in question (1970). When First Blood was adapted to screen in 1982, those ideas were obliquely present but the film was more interested in playing up the gunfights and the manhunt for broader appeal. Additionally, the 1982 First Blood (which I hesitate to compare to Flooding with Love, but can’t help it) makes a big case out of the over-trained victim and the undertrained and maniacal authority of the cops—it’s in these conflicts that we see Rambo reliving the trauma of Vietnam, emphasizing this idea that he’s never done fighting (t)his war. Oberzan’s version, as opposed to Ted Kotcheff’s, is far more politically complex.
It’s not exactly a chamber play but resembles one, as the story is contained by one room—difference is this one room is dressed and redressed, with the kitchen standing in for the police station and the shower/bathtub standing in for the river, etc, etc. The film can’t really ask us to overlook the under-designed “locations”—it’s offering us no way to experience suspension of disbelief—instead, there are little details that install comic touches and affectionately make the limitations a lovable asset—this is precisely the kind of stuff that made the remakes in Be Kind Rewind so charming and the sort of stuff midnight revival crowds would turn into audience participation: Rambo hides behind a Cliffside (played by a bookshelf) and peeks out from behind a coffee table book on Toys, famished after a mad hunt he slaughters a small teddy bear for dinner (chews it dryly), the “river” (aforementioned shower) is stocked with Pantene Pro-V. There are DOZENS more and they’re all response cues more logical than throwing toast when the Transylvanians drink champagne.
Oberzan plays every character in the story (appealing to the philosophical tagline “This is a one man war.”) and only resorts to drag once (thank goodness), but his constant presence gives the project this weight—you feel all of his work (it’s “aura,” to invoke Walter Benjamin), which really emphasizes the rougher story elements (the hardships of the chase, the exhaustion that comes from exposure) as well as the hugeness of this home movie that rests on the shoulders of one man and one man alone. Funny that a strange feeling emerges when I refer to him as “a man,” because this project as a whole is so childlike and willfully naïve it negates camp almost across the board—it embraces its limitations, makes occasional (if unjoking) light of them and stays its course. This is not a “so bad it’s good” production—this is a home movie of emotionally astronomical proportions. It wears its hyper-manly heart on its sleeve at every given moment and totally brings you to the brink of Flooding with Love for the Kid
Distributor: Film Forum
Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Zachary Oberzan
Running time: 107 min.
Release date: January 8 NY