Director: Ivan Sen
I badly wanted to love ‘Loveland’.
Australia director Ivan Sen (‘Beneath Clouds’, ‘Toomelah’, ‘Goldstone’ and ‘Mystery Road’ ) completely transcends the ‘Australian director’ classification with ‘Loveland’, locating us in a timeless place of ambiguous location, that has elements of Earth 1950’s, while conversations mention a cataclysmic climate disaster. In this Sci Fi noir’ish filmscape, the high-rise futuristic architecture is grubby and neon-lit.
Everyone seems to be just trying to survive. Jack (Ryan Kwanten) is our protagonist, once a construction worker who is now an assassin; Jack once killed in self-defence and found it such a personally meaningless experience , he quickly switched trades, realising that killing people pays better than construction work. We first meet Jack lamenting that the price of a life has diminished dramatically since his first hit; and renting a life-like female doll that is obviously much older than is he. He takes ‘her’ home and treats her like his mother (Jack’s mother sold him when he was very young, needing the money).
Pretty bleak? You bet.
As the story unfolds, Jack meets a girl (Jillian Nguyen) and falls for her, while strangely his health suddenly begins to fall apart. Through sim card and AI patent tracing he finds a retired, life extension scientist (Hugo Weaving) and we discover that Jack is actually dying because he has been part of a life-extending experiment. ‘Love’ is one of those strong feelings that will bring Jack’s life to an early end; he has received biological adjustments making immortality viable at the cost of trust and many other social loyalties, bonds and beliefs that many of us believe to be critical for civilization.
'Loveland' is a film far more interesting in concept than in its rendering, but unless you are a film tragic like myself, you may find it a little slow.