Quirky indie love stories can be a tricky genre field to mine. Succeed and you’ll have your audience smiling wistfully through tears. Fail and they’ll feel emotionally manipulated and worse, really annoyed. Love–and more realistically, relationships–is a complicated and individual phenomena that can’t and shouldn’t be boiled down for an easy audience approval.
May Charters and Mark Hug’s 2009 debut feature film Lovers in a Dangerous Time understands this and seeks, for the most part, to simply explore the complexities of romance. While that occasionally leaves the film feeling a little unfocused, it also captures something genuine in its realistic depiction of an emotionally loaded relationship hitting serious roadblocks before it can even begin.
Meet Allison (Charters), a children’s book illustrator recently fired from her lucrative job in Toronto. Mulling her options, Allison returns home to the small town of Creston for her ten year high school reunion. There she sees Todd (Hug), a lifelong friend and almost lover who stayed behind to work on his father’s orchard while his younger brother landed a multi-million dollar contract as a star player with the NHL.
Written and directed by its leads, Lovers in a Dangerous Time is more about two people than their actual relationship. Movie convention would have us convinced that Allison and Todd belong together. They’re young, attractive, and charmingly matched. But Todd is stilted by a dream that never materialized while Allison, having lost her job, is trying to decide what direction her life should take. Sure, they’d make an adorable couple, but these are also two 28 year-olds with other life questions to consider that might come first.
Though Lovers in a Dangerous Time does toe a Garden State-like line of being a little too quirky at times, it’s ultimately a refreshingly intelligent film that clearly loves and respects the story it wants to tell. The setting of Creston becomes a character in itself, the type of small town that looks great on camera but whose biggest bragging right is its alumnus illustrating a book about a vomiting rodent. Charters and Hug are solid presences in the film. We like Allison and Todd, but more importantly, we’re interested in and understand the choices they made, didn’t make, and still have the chance to change. It doesn’t necessarily make for the most radical or exciting of films, but Lovers in a Dangerous Time is a pleasantly unique and heartfelt trip well worth a viewing for those who enjoy earnest, atypical love stories.
Lovers in a Dangerous Time is now available for streaming on VOD in the U.S. and for purchase at its official website, http://www.inadangeroustime.com, where you can also sample the film’s seven original musical tracks and order the soundtrack on CD. Special DVD features include several deleted scenes and a making-of featurette.