True Love Ways
Holy shit guys. This movie is completely bizarre, but in a really fantastic way. I went into it completely cold, knowing nothing about it, and was pleasantly surprised. This film sits quite neatly in the rape/revenge canon (though nothing is explicitly shown), which is a sub-genre I generally avoid, so it was even more surprising that I enjoyed it.
True Love Ways is about a young woman named Séverine who, urged on by a series of dreams in which she falls in love with a stranger, decides to break up with her current boyfriend. So yeah, already kind of a weird premise. In his desperation to not lose her, he hires a stranger in a bar to "kidnap" her so he can swoop in at the last minute and "save" her, at which point he believes she'll fall back in love with him. As expected, things quickly go horribly wrong and the film heads in an unexpected and violent direction.
I will admit, True Love Ways may not be everyone's cup of tea. It wears its influences on its sleeve with no apologies, and is an extremely stylized film. There are hints of Polanski and Hitchcock and French New Wave stuffed into this one. It's filmed in rich black and white, with a retro look and feel to the film that's counterbalanced by the appearance of modern-day conveniences such as iPhones and video equipment. It makes the film's universe feel "not quite right" and off-kilter at moments, and may strike some viewers as trying too hard, but in my opinion the film's intentionally dream-like quality and plot is enhanced by these uncomfortable collisions. It also, despite its disturbing subject matter, features moments of pitch black comedy through the use of tropes from its various progenitors.
While there are a few unanswered questions (plot holes?) there's also a large amount of satisfaction when you get to the end and have a better understanding of everything that occurred earlier in the film. It's a moment that makes everything you've already seen come into an unsettling focus. In addition, the ending is fairly controversial and may not sit well with some viewers. While I personally didn't have an issue with it as a representation of one woman's experience, I can see the thorniness of reading it as commentary on women at large.
True Love Ways is a singular film, and it was such a delight and so and refreshing to watch a horror film doing something truly different. I really enjoyed True Love Ways and recommend it to anyone looking for a horror film that's off the beaten path. It's a hidden gem, for sure!