Critipeg: Lovesick

Playing at Cinematheque until Feb. 5

There’s merit in the idea of a genre exercise. There’s nothing inherently wrong with making a romantic comedy that doesn’t aim to subvert, break new ground or be anything more than a great entry in the rom-com genre. Unfortunately, Lovesick doesn’t quite achieve those modest goals.

Shot and set in Winnipeg, the film stars Jacob Tierney as a dejected artist obsessed with his now-engaged ex-girlfriend (Jessica Paré). He struggles to get over her, meeting a new flame along the way (Ali Tataryn).

The trope of the self-pitying man-child as rom-com protagonist is nothing new, but it’s especially poorly served here. Whether intentional or not, the unlikeability and downright creepiness of Tierney’s Dash is a huge problem. His rival – the ex’s new fiancé (Jay Baruchel) – is not only more charming, but more interesting.

Fortunately, the picture is rounded out with an excellent supporting cast. Ross McMillan as Dash’s therapist and Adam Brooks as his misguided best friend do exceptional jobs filling standard rom-com archetypes.

Writer-director Tyson Caron has an eye for location, shooting and framing his spaces with unobtrusive but undeniable style. Most of the time, he gets the look and feel of Winnipeg right. However, he’s at his best when capturing the atmosphere of neighbourhoods, sidewalks and alleys more than when he’s running through the tourist brochure checklist.

Lovesick’s greatest strength is the excellent soundtrack, with a musical score and original songs by Royal Canoe’s Matthew Schellenberg. The film always sounds fresh and alive, pulsing with thoughtful and infectious music.

Published in Volume 71, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 2, 2017)

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