Sundance’s awards are tonight, but we’d be remiss without mentioning one final film: Mark Webber’s The End of Love, which was shown in the festival’s very last press and industry screening Friday night (the nine attendees gave themselves a self-congratulatory cheer for being the last journalists standing). This makes the third role in films at this year’s Sundance for Webber, best known for playing Sex Bob-omb’s lead singer in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: He’s also popped up in Save the Date with Lizzy Caplan and For A Good Time, Call… as the phone-sex caller who romances Ari Graynor’s phone-sex operator. But Webber also wrote and directed The End of Love, which is not only the most personal of those three films, but perhaps the most deeply personal movie in the entire festival.
Plot: A struggling actor named Mark, who once starred in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, has to raise his two-year old son Isaac (played by Webber’s then-two-year-old son Isaac), after the boy’s mother (Frankie Shaw, his actual mother, who appears in flashbacks), dies in a car crash. The movie picks up a year after her death, as Mark is bombing auditions, failing to pay rent, and trying to start a relationship with another single parent (Shannyn Sossamon).
Reaction: At least three men with kids we know said they left the theater “wrecked”. All week, we’d been hearing how incredibly “ballsy” it is for the intimate and experimental way Webber made the film: Isaac talks a lot, but he has no scripted lines; Webber stayed in character around him and shaped the scenes based on Isaac’s rhythms and whims. It’s a completely guileless child performance (that, again, isn’t performance). The conversation where Mark explains death to Isaac is the actual conversation where he explains death to his son. But just as impressive are the scenes without Isaac, as Webber struggles to regain a sense of normalcy, in particular at a surreal and incredibly sad game night at the house of Michael Cera who, in this film’s meta tradition, plays himself. The Hollywood Reporter called it “a delicate wisp of vérité-style drama,” while Indiewire found it “flawed” and minor, in other words, “hard to dislike and difficult to invest in.”
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