If you, dear viewer, feel that the sight of an awkward man trying out bad, offensive pickup lines on pretty girls, only to be shot down again and again only to rise up and try lines that are even more awkward and more offensive to be entertaining, then perhaps Anton King’s Lust for Love is up your alley. As for me, I squirmed in annoyed discomfort throughout the bulk of this insufferably twee indie romance about a timid, virginal dude trying to become more of a ladies’ man. The story is cliché, the characters obnoxious, and the ultimate (predictable) denouement is delayed beyond all plausible logic.
The only really appealing thing in Lust for Love is Fran Kranz, the lead actor. Kranz plays Astor, a boyish and immature romantic who has had eyes for his best friend Mila (Beau Garrett) since they were small children. In a fit of drunken pique one evening, Mila decides to sleep with Astor, sparking an intense puppy-dog romance where he beings her flowers everyday, writes love poems, and enacts what he thinks a romance should be. She, meanwhile, grows quickly tired of the boyish wooing, and soon dumps him for being immature and impractical. Wanting to learn about women more, Astor turns to his best friend Cali (Dichen Lachman), a sleep-around gal, who is to teach him the art of the pickup. Cue the extended awkward stalled sexual advances with about a dozen women in bars. No points for guessing that Astor will get over Mila and end up falling in love with Cali.
Kranz is a appealing screen presence, possessed of a natural charming earnestness that keeps the movie from sinking entirely. Kranz, if you’ll recall, was also one of the only actors comfortable with Shakespearean dialogue in Joss Whedon’s nice-try Much Ado About Nothing. Lachman and Garrett, however, seem stymied by the uninvolving script, creating some of the more bland romantic leads ever seen in this overpopulated genre. The script (also by King) is a distant echo of Kevin Smith, grabbing desperately for lighthearted, sex-heavy banter, but falling somewhere in the protracted valley of the wannabe.
Lust for Love was funded by a Kickstarter campaign, perhaps funded largely by fans of the failed cult (?) TV show Dollhouse, which shares three actors. I have a feeling that the film’s many backers may feel bilked by this usual and disappointing indie romcom. It flirts with sexiness (there are two threesomes involved in the story, and one errant pair of panties), and is trying really hard to be earnest and honest about the modern state of relationships, etc. etc., but it’s ultimately amateurish and bumbling, just like Astor’s attempts at removing a woman’s brassiere. Add to that a few insufferably overdone scenes of over-the-top romance (yes, there is actually a scene where our two romantic leads lock hands and spin around, laughing, on a rooftop), and you’ve got a perfectly forgettable film.