Love Object (2003)
Director: Robert Parigi
A lonely technical writer in charge of editing instruction manuals (Harrington) orders himself a girlfriend. Yup, you heard me! Not having the balls to approach Lisa (Sagemiller), the sweet new temp at work, he instead buys himself a life-size, anatomically accurate, real-life looking sex doll named Nikki and turns the plastic receptacle into the mirror image of Lisa. All is fine and peachy between him and the rubber gal until Lisa gets into the picture for real. That ignites a twisted love triangle. Who’s the object here?
FANTASIA FESTIVAL 2003 ENTRY
Think a mix of "Pin" and "May" and you’ll get the gist of what this bad boy is all about. Written and directed by Robert Parigi, "Love Object" is a weird, dark, perverse dish that often had me laughing at the oddity of the circumstances at hand (that doll stuff was wacky) while at other times, giving me the heebie-jeebies through its audacious and touchy subject matter (that doll stuff got wackier).
"Love Object" used our contemporary emotional distance towards sex and love due to pornography and technology as its springboard and then took us deeper into its unbalanced abyss. It also explored what I like to call: “selfish love”, where a person loves another not for who they are, but for who they think they are. They love the ideal...not the actual. Other themes at hand included the positive influence love can have on one’s attitude, sexual deviances (always fun in my book), possessiveness, fear of losing control over one’s life and of course the big “I”…which is usually, in my humble opinion, the cancer of every failed relationship on planet earth: INSECURITY.
Throughout this watch, I was totally taken in by the twisted circumstantial humor, the kooky subplots (Udo Kier rules, as per usual), the sick twists, the pokes at the common “relationship” quirks (instead played out with a doll) and the fine performances by all. It's to note that this film's actors were definitely its Ace in the deck. The lovely Melissa Sagemiller ("Soul Survivors") and the solid Desmond Harrington ("Wrong Turn") should fill a tub with champagne, jump in and fornicate to celebrate their jobs extremely well done. Both actors expertly owned this show and without them perfecting their roles, who knows how gripping this ride might've been?
For its first hour, the film played its horror vibe very subtly (what was up with that porn shop clerk?), more interested in being a bleak and off-beat character study than an outwards horror movie. Kenneth was definitely an interesting lad to follow around and his constant interaction with the doll was hilarious, yet freaking, unsettling. The doll itself looked creepier than that bag lady I bagged last week though. I can’t believe there are people out there who hump these things! Brrr…I’d rather fuck a beach ball, thank you very much! The flick did eventually bring its horror undertones to the surface full blast with its gruesome finale though. Although not as clever as what preceded it, I still got mucho kicks out of the INSANE conclusion. It definitely had me cringing in my seat. What a hard watch!
Alas, one spice that both "Pin" and "May" had that "Love Object" didn’t, was a sympathy factor for the lead character. Throughout the film, all I kept saying (out loud at that) was: “What the hell is wrong with this guy? Dude, you’re a good looking man, lose the doll and hop the chick!” She digs you, bro! We’re never given a concrete reason as to why Kenneth has such a shaky mental disposition and although an explanation/motive isn’t always necessary in efforts of this ilk, in this case, understanding where he was coming from might've made me invest more into him. As is, although I was engaged by the happenings and anxious for its outcome, I never fully cared for Kenneth or his fate.
When the deed was done and over with, I could firmly say that I really enjoyed "Love Object". I got a few 'boo' scares out of it, chuckled out loud, got the chills and respected its “pushing of the envelope” attitude. Forget relationships with real chicks! Humping plastic is the new fad! Let’s all be sheep, take out our VISA cards and order ourselves some love that won’t talk back!
We get some off-screen limb sawings, some stabbing with medical instruments (brrrrrr) and some gunshot wounds.
Desmond Harrington (Kenneth) carried the flick as the neurotic, shy and borderline psychotic loner. Norman Bates came to mind! He gave a subdued and solid performance. Too bad I just didn’t care about the dude as much as I should have. Melissa Sagemiller (Lisa) came into her own here, elevating a “so-so” written part on paper to a higher level via a thick dose of charm, vulnerability and credibility. Make this baby a STAR! I love Rip Torn (Novack), but didn’t find him to be in tip-top shape here. Udo Kier (Landlord) can do no wrong simply because he is, after all…Udo Kier! 'Nuff said.
T & A
We get a quick breast shot from some lady in a hallway and Melissa Sagemiller also briefly uncovers one breast…twice. The ladies get Udo Kier looking a lot like Udo Kier…GREAT MAN!
Parigi managed to echo his lead characters' state of mind through his visuals. We get some nice quick cuts, kool use of whites and potent slow motion. I particularly grooved on the man’s use of the score to communicate the doll speaking. Actually, the use of sound/silence in general was mucho effective. Nice!
Nicholas Pike’s classical-like score worked most of the time, but got overwhelming in places.
"Love Object" had my noggin engaged from beginning to end. Its first hour tackled universal love themes in a quirky and periodically frightening fashion, while its conclusion was a balls-to-the-wall horror swan song. If only I would’ve cared more about the lead fruit, the flick would’ve left a deeper impression on me. Having said that, check this crazy beeyatch out. It’s always rewarding to see a horror film that takes chances and that’s not afraid to take shite to a very ugly level. Once you’ve seen the film, you’ll either go to www.realdoll.com and pull a Kenneth or do like me and try to find Melissa Sagemiller’s phone number. Gotta invite her out for some choco-milkshakes! Melissa, where you at?
This flick was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm.
This flick was produced for under a million dollars and was shot in 3 weeks.
Robert Parigi did some screenplay work for "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2".
I saw this flick via the Fantasia Film Festival 2003.