Loving Martin short film review

★★★

Directed by: #ElmerJHoward

Written by: #DavidVernon

Starring: #ScottOlson, #AllenMontes, #RhayneThomas

Film Review by: #DarrenTilby

Elmer J. Howard’s based-on-real-events film is a melancholic tale of love and loss. But despite its gloomy facade, Loving Martin’s true heart lies within its messages of acceptance and reconciliation. 'An end can create a new beginning’, after all.

We’re brought into the film by sublime camerawork and a soundtrack to match. An aerial shot of Erik’s neighbourhood gradually pulls us towards and into Erik’s house. Close-up shots of a most amazing looking meal – an anniversary meal, in fact – being prepared follow. This section is presented with a home video flair and leads us perfectly to our main characters: Erik, a laid-back middle-aged gay man, has a stable career and a comfortable living situation. Martin, his young wayward lover of 5 years, does not.

Scott Olson is Erik and Allen Montes portrays Martin. And, despite their differences, the couple clearly care a great deal for one another; something demonstrated very well by our leads. And while the performances aren't quite as strong as they should have been, they form a solid foundation for the movie, nonetheless. In support (artistically and morally) is Rhayne Thomas, playing Erik's lesbian friend, Jeanine. Who pops up occasionally to offer Erik relationship advice. And although her scenes are few and far between, they are a welcome change of pace and contain some of the best dialogue in the film.

It's the pacing of the film which presents us with my biggest quibble. To put it simply, it's just a little off. The first 5 minutes of the film is so resplendent with interesting cinematic flourishes: the home video style camerawork, the way the camera seemingly floats through Erik's house and the amazing soundtrack set a tempo and expectation the rest of the film struggles to maintain. And whilst this never becomes a movie-breaking issue, it is still a little jarring.

Tonally, Loving Martin is a sombre film, one in which we are deprived of a happy ending. But out of that sorrow, there’s light. A conscious decision has been made not to dwell on the tragedy of Martin's young life, but rather, to find beauty and inspiration in it. And I can think of no better way to honour a person’s memory than that.

With the movie being based on a true story, it is possible – albeit difficult – to look up certain events online. In fact, it was so difficult to research anything in-depth, or of any significance, I still don't really know anything about these people outside of what the film tells us. But I think, perhaps, this is the film's greatest achievement: bringing to a wider audience the tragic tale of Martin Valenzuela. The film has its problems, true. But for this alone, the filmmakers deserve full acclamation.