Love and War (2011) – By Duane L. Martin

Love and War is the story of a man named Rafe (Bjorn Whitney), and is divided into two separate stories about him that switch back and forth. One story takes place in a swanky lounge in the 20’s, where he has an encounter with all the various women he’s loved and left over the years, while the other story has him on the front lines in World War 1, where he’s missing his girl terribly and so desperate to get home to her that he shoots himself in the hand in an attempt to get out of the army. During a battle, he’s wounded, and happens to be treated by a nurse that’s from his home town. The two fall in love, but then he must leave to go back to his unit, and is torn from the love that his alter ego from the lounge in the other story never truly appreciated before.

Now I’ve reviewed a short from director L. Gabriel Gonda in the past, and his visual work is absolutely stunning. His film making technique is first rate and he’s, in my opinion, in the top tier of independent film makers who know how to make their films look simply amazing. That said, his stories can be a little confusing, though I think now after I’ve had a lot of time to think about this one, that I’ve finally figured out the meaning behind it. The lounge version has all the women he could possibly want at his disposal, one after another. So many in fact, that he doesn’t appreciate them, and simply moves from one to the next, while the soldier version misses his one true love so much that he becomes desperate to escape all the war and chaos to get back to her, and ends up finding a new love in a nurse that he isn’t allowed to stay with. I’m pretty sure that’s what the intended meaning is supposed to be anyway.

Everything about this film from a technical perspective is like a master class in film making. Visually it’s simply beautiful. The set design, the lighting, the sound, the music, the costumes…all authentic, and both stories really take you into the setting, making you believe you’re really there. The way the film was edited and kept switching back and forth between stories showed you enough of each one per scene to keep things interesting, never short changing one side or the other. The technicals of this film are just simply spectacular.

That said, I don’t know if I was just being dense, but it really took me a long time to process this story, and I’m still not sure if I’m correct. Because its a short, there wasn’t time to really go in depth with the character’s background, nor was it really clear if this was taking place in two different times with the same guy, or at the same time in sort of an alternate reality type of a situation where it was the same guy but with a whole different life story and personality in each reality. It’s confusing, but man it sure is pretty.

You can find out more about this film, and purchase a copy for $5 through the films website at It’s definitely worth checking out, and your $5 purchase will help Mr. Gonda to continue to produce these amazing looking films he’s so proficient at producing.