Reviews: Disorientations.com is Travis Jeppesen – Todd Verow
Todd Verow at 3. Porn Film Festival Berlin
I have to admit that I haven’t seen any of Todd Verow’s previous films, but I admire the abrasive, fuck-you aesthetic you find in his latest, Where Your Heart Should Be, which received its world premiere last night at the Porn Film Festival Berlin (the film also screens tonight at 22:15 at Kino Eiszeit for any Berlin readers out there.) While I can’t say that the film is easy to watch, Verow obviously knows this and wouldn’t have it any other way. He wants the experience of watching the film to be as painful for the audience as it was for the filmmaker in making it.
Impossible to summarize, the film works as a sort of visual diary recording its author’s de-infatuation with love and sex. As Verow states early on in the film [paraphrase alert!], “You want a tagline? I’ll give you a tagline: Film is dead, porn is dead, love is dead, sex is dead.”
The texts employed throughout the film are as brutal and confrontational as the author’s own words, but most of them do not originate from him. Rather, they are taken from letters and e-mails sent by disenchanted ex-lovers. The film is spliced with lots of footage of Verow and his current partner fucking; otherwise, in interview/monologue segments, Verow hires various actors to play him, recounting painful memories of a pre-adolescent gang rape in graphic detail.
Where Your Heart Should Be had a noticeably divisive effect on its audience. There were quite a few walk-outs – always a sign that the filmmaker has done something right. For the fact is that most people are sadly average and don’t want to be confronted with words and images of ugliness and brutality. Those who test themselves by facing it head-on, however, often discover that there is also a lot of beauty embedded within those images. This is odd, because disenchantment isn’t supposed to be pretty. And the ambiguous barrage of emotions provoked by Where Your Heart Should Be tends to have a choking effect. Taken as a whole, though, I think Where Your Heart Should Be is a beautiful film – and the beauty lies in its very abrasiveness. The mere fact of its unclassifiability signifies a unique rogue presence in the world of independent filmmaking. I’m looking forward to tracking down more of Verow’s films.