Directed by Korean-Chinese filmmaker, Zhang Lu, Love and… is the ultimate art-house film, filled with baffling images and sounds. Giant industrial underground pipes, abandoned buildings, two empty chairs moving closer together, the Chinese translation of the collected short stories of Jorge Luis Borges. Crackling fire, an empty stadium roaring with cheers and applause, a recitation about lotus flowers, life, and death.
Told in four chapters — “Love,” “Film,” “Actors,” and “Love again” — Love and… begins in black and white, with a granddaughter visiting her grandfather in a hospital, where she notices that he has an eye on a cleaning lady. There is a transition to colour where a disgruntled gaffer on a film set sharply criticizes the director’s choices, calling the movie, “an insult to love.” From there, the film devolves into a series of grainy pans of the previously mentioned baffling images and sounds and then a detour in the “Actors” chapter to a slickly filmed silent gangster film. With its emphasis on aesthetic over plot, I couldn’t help but try to piece together the puzzle of Love and… from the scattered images and sounds. How do I make sense of the scene with peanuts trembling and moving by themselves? Why is there a wedding march playing in an empty hospital? Why is that girl giving birth on the floor?
Perhaps one clue to the film can be found in the one reference I was able to successfully Google — Borges was a founder of postmodern literature, which tends towards self-examination of the creative process, paradox and fragmentation. Basically, it’s not supposed to make sense. Love and… is not for the faint of heart or mind. An experimentation in image, sound, and the seemingly random, Love and… is the type of film that you could only see at a film festival.