Love and Other Catastrophes
“Love is always Dangerous”
Set in and around Melbourne University, Love and Other Catastrophes tells the story of a small group of students as they try to figure out their lives. Michael (Matt Day) is looking for a new place to live and for a girl. Mia (Frances O'Connor, who also stared with Day in Kiss or Kill) is trying to switch departments to follow a professor, all the while breaking up with her girl friend (Radha Mitchell). Ari is a the campus stud, when we first meet him he is have sex for money with a woman who’s face we never see, later he is reading James Ellroy’s America Tabloid. Alice, Mia’s roommate, is trying to finish her thesis on Doris Day Feminist Class Warrior and looking for love. She only has three requirements for the boy she is looking for he must; Be left handed, like the same films she likes, and be honest… what do you think is going to happen.
It’s not the what’s going to happen that matters, it’s what co-writer and Director Emma-Kate Croghan does with the set it that matters. It’s fast, fun, free and a classic example of doing the best with what you have. There are several great shots, some very fun moments and a lot of illusions to other films, styles and moments. No attempt is made to hide the homage’s and in some moments outright lifting from others work. For me that’s part of the fun, part of the mixing of Croghan seeming to say this is where I am coming from. It’s a great début, and Croghan followed it up with a film called Strange Planet, which really did nothing for me.
The other element that makes the film rise above the 90s indie fray is the cast. Given a lot of self important, I’m so smart, cool or whatever dialog they sell it in a way that never made it to precious to me. It’s O’Connor who gives the best of these, playing drama, comedy and portraying Mia as not only a narcissist, but as a manipulator while at the same time caring about her friends and girlfriend…. Despite what she might say. Matt Day is one of my favorite presences on screen, most of the time, and here he is likable and fun, he gets several of the best comedic moments and plays them well. Alice Garner as Alice and Matthew Dyktynski as Ari are fun and fresh, and I wish that they were in more films that got some play in the states.
Overall I do have to admit that there is an element of enjoyment of the film as it captures a moment in time for my generation, that being the college years of the mid 1990s. Like Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming and the Ben Affleck flick Glory Daze, Love and Other Catastrophes reflects a world, a time and a mindset that I recall with some fondness. I have the film on VHS, along with a Australian DVD (which I can’t play due to the fact that I don’t have a region free player), but I still want some sort of US release for the film on DVD. I would love to see a Criterion release of the film, I think it would sit nicely along side Kicking and Screaming in the collection, but unless it was to end up in an eclipse set of some sort, I don’t think that’s going to happen. At this point the best we can hope for is that it pops up streaming somewhere, or if someone was to put it out on the cheap… it’s too bad because it’s a favorite of mine and it’s well worth checking out.