Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Love Object (2003)

Love Object is a dark, twisted and perverse film that abounds with layers of meaning while still managing to be wholly entertaining.

Successful but socially awkward technical writer Kenneth Winslow (Desmond Harrington) just can't connect to people. He writes instruction manuals for a large company and his motto is, "It's easy if you just follow the directions." Alas, in life there are no directions. Isolated and alone, he decides to order a pricey but realistic sex doll, modeled after his newly-appointed assistant, Lisa. The sex doll, Nikki, arrives in a large crate at his apartment. Kenneth soon develops a close attachment to Nikki and starts treating her like a real girlfriend. His relationship with Nikki becomes strained as he and Lisa develop feelings for each other. Soon, he begins to suspect that Nikki is jealous and is trying to get back at him for abandoning her for Lisa. Kenneth's mental state becomes more and more fragile as he believes Nikki is out to get him. Is it all in his head or has Nikki really come alive?

Love Object can be read into for many deeper meanings including issues in relationships, detachment from people and more of a reliance on inanimate objects or possessions, objectification of women, a view on the state of mind of our society, etc., etc. First-time director Robert Parigi covers many levels of meaning in his very engaging horror flick. There is the motif running throughout the film of disease. Kenneth goes to a porn shop a few times and the clerk is horribly disfigured and has a red rash covering his face. The guy who delivers Nikki also has the same ugly red rash as the clerk does. Other people Kenneth comes in contact with who are somehow connected to either Nikki or the perverse lifestyle Nikki represents also have the rash. As Kenneth slowly changes and grows more and more crazy, he also develops a violent red rash on his neck. These small details by Parigi point to something much larger he wanted to make the audience think about.

Don't fret, though, because while it can be viewed on many different levels, this film is also very entertaining and has some great performances. Desmond Harrington does an especially great job as Kenneth, portraying his quickly slipping sanity with great believability. He sure is creepy when talking and *ahem* interacting with Nikki. I also enjoyed watching Melissa Sagemiller play a charming and likable Lisa (she was also the model for Nikki). The film also features Rip Torn as Kenneth's boss and Udo Keir as his landlord who lives next door to Kenneth and hears some very strange things through the wall...

There are many scenes that will make you squirm or look away in disgust, but, be warned, this is not a gory movie. It reminded me of a cross between American Psycho and May; a smart, quirky movie that features a brutal ending.

Order it on Amazon!

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