A Love Affair of Sorts is billed as the first feature shot on a Flip Camera (and possibly the last, given the portable device's discontinuation in April), exactly the kind of meaningless technical milestone attached to quickly-forgotten titles like Cyrus Frisch's 2007 film Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me It Would Become This Bad In Afghanistan?, the first feature shot on a cell phone. That distinction aside, A Love Affair of Sorts promises to be a thought-provoking meditation on love in the digital age, with "artist" David (director David Guy Levy) and Hungarian immigrant Lili (Lili Bordán) documenting each other exhaustively as love blossoms. In practice, A Love Affair of Sorts' Big Ideas—that the presence of somebody recording and the promise of an audience affects ostensibly private emotional transactions, that compulsive filmmaking can lead to solipsism, that the line between vérité "truth" and filmed "fiction" is increasingly thin—will make a big hit with 5-year-olds who've never seen any movies at all, let alone We Live In Public, Afterschool, Joe Swanberg's LOL, David Holzman's Diary et al. For more experienced viewers, the tired terrain is badly shot and haphazardly assembled into an audience-testing feature that appears to have no idea how unlikable or unprovocative it is. Audience interest should be limited.
The Flip Cam may be high-resolution, but as manhandled by Levy it's constantly auto-correcting the focus and light levels; it's a painful experience with no real thematic purpose to justify it. The film establishes that we're watching "fiction" in the first scene, as David and Lili rehearse their meet-cute in a bookstore. After performing the scene for "real" in a public space, David invites Lili over to his pad, where the Hungarian immigrant chain-smokes and drinks vodka. Subsequently they agree to collaborate on an "art project," which involves filming each other relentlessly in a search for honesty, emotional truth, etc.
David and Lili seem to believe that calling something an "art project" makes the work in question automatically worthy of respect: it's fascinating how that can so often lead to people's assumption that relentless documentation of themselves will yield revelatory insight, or that the self is really all we can really on. The oddest thing about A Love Affair of Sorts is that it doesn't have any skepticism about this: David and Lili, both deeply self-absorbed prototypical citizens of Los Angeles who appear to spend zero time earning their incomes, find it perfectly natural to film each others' every act. They don't seem to worry about annoying others, which extends to David tagging along with Lili and her freakishly patient boyfriend Boris (Iván Kamarás). There's nothing pathological about their need for constant self-documentation: it's just as (un)natural as their effortless lifestyles.
In reality Guy's a producer, and he should've resisted the urge to call in favors for a directorial effort—like having talented director Azazel Jacobs (Terri, on which Levy holds an executive producer credit) edit. No one could assemble this footage into something worthwhile; as is, every minute or so there's a conversation about where to put the camera, who's holding it, who's comfortable oncamera, who's not. The overarching narrative is the out-of-shape David's obvious attraction to Lili, a desire simultaneously gratified by and then self-pityingly destroyed in the film. Meanwhile, there's much footage of smoking, driving, David eating, and—at one particularly dire moment—a cat urinating into a toilet. Neither David's pining nor Lili's preening compels, the former's puppy-dog longing grows especially grating. With its narcissistic emphasis on the loneliness of exceptional talents (which we know they possess because they say so) in a Hollywood-saturated environment, A Love Affair of Sorts' target audience will be people with an irrational hatred for Los Angeles, who can see their worst fears about people there brought to life.
Cast: David Guy Levy, Lili Bordán, Iván Kamarás, Jonathan Beckerman
Director/Producer: David Guy Levy
Screenwriters: David Guy Levy, Lili Bordán
Running time: 91 min.
Release date: June 24 NY