It’s a rare occurrence in Hollywood for a no-budget film to make it and receive some sort of recognition. It’s an even rarer occurrence for it to actually make a profit. Yet “For Lovers Only,” an Independent film by Mark and Michael Polish (“Twin Falls, Idaho”; “The Astronaut Farmer”) has accomplished both of that, and more. Released in July, the film raked in approximately $200,000 in profits within the first few weeks alone (via The Wrap). A truly impressive feat for a film made in 12 days with a zero-dollar budget (literally) and only a DSLR Canon 5D Mark II. But more on the success of its marketing strategy in next week’s blog post; this week’s blog post analyzes the film itself.
On paper, the film is simply about former lovers who, by chance, bump into each other in Paris after years of separation, and almost immediately decide to set out on a road trip around France. But director Michael Polish brings to life more than two people in love. He highlights, rather spectacularly, the paradoxes of love – the agonizing bliss and the feeling of being simultaneously helpless yet on top of the world. After their chance meeting, the lovers, Yves and Sofia, played by Mark Polish and actress Stana Katic (“Heroes”; “Castle”) respectively, quickly realize that they are still deeply in love with each other, yet that same love also forces them to deal with the fact they have new, very different lives – lives with other people. The Polish Brothers do a great job of hinting at the lovers’ prior history with each other, as well as the current lives the lovers attempt to run away from. It’s more poignant that the past is never truly explained, since then the focus is more on emotions – the joys and the sadness that the lovers feel – rather than trying to figure out why the relationship failed before. Katic and Mark Polish also help sell the believability of the relationship. Watching the film, it’s clear to see that there’s no pretense in the actors’ performances. Their subtleties – their secret smiles, the silences between them – sell the deep connection the two characters have with each other. Katic and Mark Polish balance each other perfectly by emphasizing the importance of what was not said, rather than what was.
But the true beauty and genius of “For Lovers Only” lies in Michael Polish’s filmmaking. Every shot in the film looked meticulously composed, and overall the film offered some stunning visual aesthetics. Michael Polish also opted for a Canon 5D so he could achieve the fly-on-the-wall feel in order to compliment the intimacy between the lovers. His technique worked so well that at times I felt like I should look away in order to give the lovers some additional privacy. Even Polish’s choice to have the film be in black and white has a purpose; the film stripped of its color forces the audience to focus solely on the lovers and their relationship. For Polish, a picture is worth a thousand words, and he uses it to accurately capture what love truly feels like.
Every once in a while there comes a film which stops you dead in your tracks and forces you to re-examine yourself. “For Lovers Only” is one of those films. Perhaps it reinvokes an old memory of a great love story. Perhaps its because both Yves and Sofia are a little like all of us. Or perhaps its because you could see the heart that went into making the film, so much so that it transcended the silver screen, and touched reality. Whatever it was, it’s definitely a movie I’ll remember for a long time to come.
Watch the trailer below. “For Lovers Only” is currently available on Amazon and iTunes. Check back next week for my blog post about the success of the film’s marketing campaign.
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