December 2012 – January 2013

Arts & Letters

‘Love Story’ by Florian Habicht (director)

By Michael Lucy

There are times and places to wear a fedora: while boot-legging in 1920s Chicago, for instance, or while being Michael Jackson. Florian Habicht, Love Story’s gangly Kiwi director, co-writer and protagonist, reckons another is while starring in a self-consciously quirky meta-fictional romance on the streets of New York.

At the film’s outset Habicht, playing himself, spies Masha (Masha Yakovenko), a toothily beautiful woman holding a cartoonish slice of cake, on the train. As he recounts to his father (Frank Habicht) in German via video chat while sitting in his bathtub, he is instantly smitten (“Typical Florian,” says Habicht vater) and takes to the street to ask passers-by what his odds are of bumping into Masha again. (“Very little,” according to one, “but it does happen all the time.”)

And so the schtick is set, as a more or less scripted and acted love story unfolds between Florian and Masha, interleaved with vox pops and the Habichts’ bath-time chats. Soon enough the public become co-writers and chorus as Habicht asks stranger after stranger what should happen next, then dutifully acts out their suggestions with Masha. Eventually, in a twist that surprises no one, the real-life Habicht falls in love with the real-life Masha (or does he?).

If all this confection makes you feel tired, Love Story probably isn’t for you. It’s a pity, though, as the ‘experimental’ gestures get in the way of the film’s strengths. Habicht and director of photography Maria Ines Manchego paint a warm and generous picture of New York as a homely, run-down town filled with larger than life characters, all of whom seem happy to chat about the direction of the film and, still on camera, sign release forms. Habicht’s father, a noted 1960s photographer, shines with his mixture of kindly advice and enthusiastic avant-gardist loopiness. 

“I’m not your fantasy,” Masha says early on, and she’s right. Habicht’s real fantasy seems to be of himself as an auteur taking a bite of the Big Apple. Still, striking images abound. Masha eats breakfast cereal from the hollow in Habicht’s sunken chest (“Super!” rejoices the father. “It’s not something people have seen before in a feature film.”); a row of pigeons elegantly takes flight from a roofline; a midget Michael Jackson impersonator dances on the waterfront.

Which brings us back to the hat. Habicht, a grown man in the 21st century, also wears skinny apricot-coloured jeans and a Sesame Street T-shirt. Like so much else here, they may be ironic or sincere, accidental or intentional, clothes or costume. We never find out why Masha had that cake, but Habicht would’ve wanted to eat it, too.

Michael Lucy

Michael Lucy is a writer based in Melbourne.

@MmichaelLlucy

‘Love Story’ by Florian Habicht (director), In limited release
Cover: December 2012 – January 2013

December 2012 – January 2013

From the front page

Adani repeater

Another deadline, another argument

Photo of Leonard French underneath his stained glass ceiling at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Leonard French’s Balzacian life

Reg MacDonald’s biography may return this Australian artist to the national imagination

Book cover of Choice Words

The desperate, secretive drama: ‘Choice Words’ edited by Louise Swinn

Personal stories consider questions of choice, legality and stigma surrounding abortion

Fair gone

The Coalition’s aspirational pitch worked a treat


In This Issue

Image from ‘The Last Diggers’ by Ross Coulthart. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

Lest We Inflate

Why do Australians lust for heroic war stories?

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Richard Neville & Charles Sobhraj

Ballarat–Colac Road

John McTernan, Parliament House, Canberra, 20 April 2012. © Penny Bradfield/Fairfax Syndication

The Strategist

Julia Gillard’s hard-nosed director of communications


More in Arts & Letters

Photo of Leonard French underneath his stained glass ceiling at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Leonard French’s Balzacian life

Reg MacDonald’s biography may return this Australian artist to the national imagination

Book cover of Choice Words

The desperate, secretive drama: ‘Choice Words’ edited by Louise Swinn

Personal stories consider questions of choice, legality and stigma surrounding abortion

Still image from John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Killer instincts: The ‘John Wick’ franchise

Keanu Reeves hones his stardom in the hyperreal violence of an assassin’s tale

Image of Michael Jackson and James Safechuck.

Starstruck: Reckoning with Michael Jackson’s legacy

What do we do with the music after ‘Leaving Neverland’?


More in Noted

‘Room for a Stranger’ by Melanie Cheng

The medico-writer delivers a novel driven less by storyline than accumulated observation

Still image from Game of Thrones, Season 8

Game of Thrones: Season 8

HBO’s epic fantasy series reaches its martial conclusion

Image of ‘Islands’ by Peggy Frew

‘Islands’ by Peggy Frew

The bestselling author delivers a nuanced examination of family tragedy

‘Who Killed My Father’ by Édouard Louis (trans. Lorin Stein)

Political rage fuels the French author’s account of a fraught father–son relationship


Read on

Image of former prime minister Bob Hawke

Remembering the Silver Bodgie

Bob Hawke’s ability to build consensus reshaped Australia

Doomsday is nigh

The ALP’s policies are mild – why are they being treated as a mortal threat?

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Our distorted politics

Why is the Coalition even competitive under Morrison?

Image of the News Corp Australia office in Sydney

When journalists revolt

New Corp’s influence is being tested this election


×
×