I was contacted by the PR people behind 'Love Is All You Need?' in early October to see if I'd be interested in working on a review for their unreleased film. They then asked, "Have you heard of our film?"
Heard of it? It's based on a short film that had me in tears two years ago. Of course I've heard of it! Below is the short film for your viewing pleasure:
Now, let's get to some info on the feature film. Love is All You Need? stars Briana Evigan (of the Step Up films), Tyler Blackburn (Pretty Little Liars), and Kyla Kenedy (The Walking Dead, Speechless).
The feature (as well as the short) give us an alternative universe where everyone is naturally homosexual. Homosexuality is seen as the norm, whereas heterosexuality is seen as a sin.
We are totally in the Upside Down right now, y'all.
Before I get into the reasons why I loved the film as much as I did, let me explain my viewing process. I initially watched this film in early October as I was preparing for my wedding. It stopped me dead in my tracks, but I needed to focus on the wedding so I put it out of my mind.
I watched it again on the flight to our honeymoon in Italy. I watched it again when I got home. I watched it again yesterday.
This film portrays so many feelings and so many circumstances I have personally found myself in previously in life. The hatred, the fear in peoples eyes, the bullying, the hatred… All of it. Would the world be a different place if more people saw this film? Absolutely. And for that, I'm grateful.
Now, onto my synopsis.
This is one of those films that starts in a rush at the end. You're left with many questions immediately about who is being attacked, who is on a stretcher, and why the little girl is crying.
And then everything becomes clear.
The boy is being beaten by his so called friends trying to heal him, the girl is on the stretcher after being beaten during a football game where she was targeted, the little girl has "HETERO" sharpied on her forehead in a "smear the queer" kind of game.
How did we get to this point? How did we get to this much pain?
We got to this point because people dislike what they do not understand. They are lead to believe that their job is to "fix" those that don't conform.
We start over at the beginning of the story and meet Emily, a young girl in middle school who is being picked on by her peers. We meet Jude, star quarterback of her colleges football team winning a big game as her girlfriend cheers from the stands. We meet Ryan, a young kid pledging a fraternity.
A chance encounter in line for the bathroom is where Jude and Ryan meet initially. He seems to know quite a bit about her as he is doing a story on her for the college paper. Jude is embarrassed when a girl asks for a photo and gives Jude her phone number. The chemistry between Jude and Ryan is almost obnoxious, but realistically, I personally know how it feels to like someone that goes against cultural norms, so in this case it's very endearing.
Enter Reverend Rachel (played expertly by Elisabeth Röhm). I can honestly say I haven't hated a character so much since Cruella de Vil. Reverend Rachel is a "woman of God" to an extreme. Maybe it's an extreme that's normal to some, but in a world that is so devoid of love and peace, she's seen as a guiding light. This character embodies everything that LGBTQ people are fearful of.
Reverend Rachel, I'm sure, isn't all bad. But for this film, she's the bad guy. We see her answering a phone call from Bill (pledge master of Ryan's fraternity) in which she says to him, "You're doing God's work." We find out later what he's referring to. But the dismissive attitude that Reverend Rachel displays if the negligence of the film. Again, you'll see why later, and no I'm not telling you.
We soon see Ryan and Jude developing a flirtatious relationship with one another and it's a difficult task to not let your heart melt just a little bit. The smile starts to form on your face without you realizing it when you watch as Ryan and Jude fall in love with one another. Listen, if you aren't really watching a film to be within the experience, you aren't really watching. You want Jude and Ryan to end up together. You want that happiness for them. You watch a film to get immersed in a story, and this one is seriously for you.
But as short lived and painful as it is, you'll be glad to have watched this film. I was happy I got a few views out of it, as heart wrenching as it is.