I’m Not in Love – Film Review
Man-Child has become a popular term in recent times and it is a description given to Rob, the protagonist, in I’m Not in Love. I’m Not in Love firmly sets the scene for a tale about a commitment phobic man where its opening scenes show his father deciding to leave the family home for good. The film subtly explores the impact of this trauma on Rob, as even visiting an engagement shop triggers a panic attack. I’m Not in Love provides a fresh, bittersweet approach to the formulaic romantic-comedy genre with a non-judgemental view as Rob struggles to decide the path that his life should follow, questioning love’s meaning, but his friends are not particularly sympathetic to his plight either.
Rob’s relationship with girlfriend, Marta, is quickly portrayed negatively, as most of their scenes together convey that stage of frustration and boredom within a stagnant situation. Marta seems exasperated with Rob after three years together, without any commitment, whereas Rob’s focus is on his friendship circle, which permits him to maintain a carefree lifestyle to a degree. Rob is that proverbial man-child whose attitude is only prompted to change when he overhears Marta’s discussion of giving him an ultimatum.
I’m Not in Love portrays a realistic viewpoint of a relationship examining the rituals followed over the years for love’s sake. The film explores both Rob’s and Marta’s perspective as they approach their forties. It is refreshing for the woman’s perspective to receive such balance in a film of this nature and the director Col Spector manages this sensitively. The film, unfortunately, suffers from some far-fetched, slapstick moments and lacks fully developed characters but its overall premise remains intriguing.
The film’s approach to Rob’s indecision, may fall flat on the delivery – Rob’s life lessons are granted by random strangers extolling their wisdom instantly and some of the jokes are not entirely successful. Equally, the two hander conversations involving Rob, as part of his trajectory, quite often seem stagey and better suited within a play. But it is delightful to watch the captivating cinematography unfolding within parts of Hampstead, Belsize Park and Primrose Hill as a love letter to North London. I’m Not in Love exudes love from its core through these images of leafy London environs with those panoramic London skyline views; the stress placed on platonic love is also omnipresent, reminiscent of London set Hurt by Paradise by Greta Bellamacina.
This philosophy of love penetrates the characters with a simultaneous examination of self-love. One of Rob’s friends is perceived to have an enviable playboy lifestyle but may be full of self-loathing, Rob’s other friends are married and settled. With such conflicting viewpoints, it is understandable that Rob may be confused about love. Rob’s childhood did not provide him with a balanced viewpoint of love either as indicated from the opening scenes and his relationship with his mother, amusingly played by Tessa Peake-Jones, seems fractious at the best of times.
Delightfully, the film also subtly examines the degrees of self-love that Marta has as she attempts to make efforts within the relationship whilst Rob is questioning the fabric of their relationship and ultimately his feelings for Marta. Rob is played empathetically by Al Weaver, adding nuance to the role, but it is Cristina Catalina that really carries this film with her soul-searching moments that many women will relate to within the stages of their late thirties and older. Despite Rob’s race against time being the farcical focus of the film, it is ultimately Marta’s biological race against time that underpins the film. It is a difficult dilemma for many women, that is approached sensitively in I’m Not in Love, facing that question whether to stay in a flawed relationship on the basis of potential or to leave and control your own destiny.
I’m Not in Love adopts a light-hearted comedic approach to relationship commitment through its flawed protagonist. The film touches upon substantial topics, which it glosses over for the most part in favour of humour but its emphasis on being authentic to oneself and one’s life goals, through self-love, differentiates the film and prevents it from being consigned to rom-com mediocrity.