The Movie Waffler New Release Review - <i>Love Eternal</i> | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Love Eternal

Following his mother's death, a socially awkward young man turns to necrophilia.

Directed by: Brendan Muldowney
Starring: Pollyanna McIntosh, Amanda Ryan, Robert de Hoog, Emma Eliza Regan

As a teenager, Ian (de Hoog) discovers the corpse of a schoolgirl (Regan) who has recently committed suicide. Ian keeps his discovery to himself and returns to the site on a daily basis, imagining the girl conducting conversations with him. A few years later, his mother passes away, leaving Ian to fend for himself. Unable to cope, he decides to commit suicide himself and drives to a secluded area. Just as he is about to choke on exhaust fumes, Ian is disturbed by a van full of people with exactly the same plan. Stealing the fresh corpse of a pretty young girl from the van, Ian begins to indulge his necrophiliac tendencies.
Brendan Muldowney's Love Eternal is the second Irish movie this year to deal with the issue of necrophilia, the first being Shaun Ryan's Limp. Coincidence or a product of the Irish zeitgeist? Neither, merely a reflection of the current wave of young Irish film-makers' immature obsession with shocking their audience.
Ireland has one of the highest suicide rates in the western world, so Muldowney's superficial treatment of the subject isn't likely to endear him to viewers in his homeland. The director caught my attention in 2004 with The Ten Steps, one of the creepiest and most effective short films I've ever seen, but his feature debut, 2009's Savage (the movie that gave birth to this current wave of nihilism from Irish auteurs) was a highly amateurish and absurd tale of a young man's struggle to cope in the aftermath of a violent mugging that literally leaves him emasculated.
Love Eternal is a huge improvement, in technical terms at least, thanks in part to the rapid advances made in digital film-making over the last five years, and it's impressively shot by debut cinematographer Tom Comerford. If Ireland isn't producing too many interesting directors, it's certainly punching above its weight with the number of skilled cameramen the island has spawned recently.
Muldowney directs with assurance, creating impressive montages that propel the story in economical fashion. Unfortunately, his good visual work is negated by a pointless and irritating voiceover that contributes nothing, other than describing what we're seeing on screen. It creates the impression that someone involved in the production lacked confidence in Muldowney's storytelling, and it's an insult to both the director's craft and the viewer's intelligence.
With the tone shifting awkwardly between morose and blackly comic, Love Eternal is an exasperating watch for much of its running time. It's only in the final act, when Pollyanna McIntosh's grieving mother enters the story, that the film finally settles down and begins to come close to dealing with this taboo subject in something approaching a mature manner.
Muldowney is certainly a promising director, but like most of his film-making compatriots, the sooner he exorcises his demons the better for Irish film.

Eric Hillis