I didn’t believe anything in Considering Love & Other Magic. These characters are so disengaged, you could set them on fire and all they would do is shrug. They’re all too busy pondering about death; mostly the long-term existentialism that lingers when a loved one passes away. The press release describes Dave Schultz’s film as a “family movie”. Try explaining that pitch to your kids. You’ll owe them ice cream after the show.
We all grieve in different ways, and the journey to come to terms with a tragedy is a very personal and affirming experience. Although that’s a good lesson, packaging it to a younger crowd would be a very tough task. With the correct cautious approach, I suppose Considering Love & Other Magic could’ve worked on a wholesome level. The result might’ve been preachy, but it would’ve had substance and it would’ve opened doors to some interesting discussions afterwards. Unfortunately, such as most Canadian indie comedies seem to do nowadays, writer/director Schultz uses a whimsical sense of humour in his filmmaking that undercuts the tone and devalues it into a cloying charade. Instead of developing off of a character’s turmoil, he just wants to manipulate the audience into feeling sad by using trigger words so that it’s easier to make everyone feel happy when he cues lighthearted instrumentals and old thyme quirks.
Did I mention the film is also a fantasy? As high schooler Jessie (Maddie Phillips) mourns over the suicide of her younger brother and tries to comprehend the strange feelings of obsession and jealousy, she volunteers as a tutor for local boy Tommy (Ryan Grantham) who has an eccentric “mother” Veronica (Sheila McCarthy) and a boastful “uncle” (Jasper, played by Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack). As the teens spend more time with each other, Jessie finds out that there’s a reason why Tommy doesn’t leave the house, and why his existence stems from Veronica’s writing. Actually, it’s a connection both Tommy and Jasper have in common.
Another detail listed in the press notes is Dave Schultz’s testimonial about the film he set out to make. “I’m happy with what I ended up with, something that I think is odd and quirky and interesting and that appeals to a lot of people. But I’d be lying if I said that was exactly what I set out to make.” Personally, that quote makes me uneasy. Schultz carries on about knowing the film would be about friendship. In that case, he needed to narrow that vast theme down to specific things about friendship.
Making a movie has its ebbs and flows and the production always leaves enough room to roll with the punches, but the process relies on a solid idea to serve as framework. If it’s always shifting, the film fails to find a purpose or common ground with its audience, and it can never take any of its themes seriously. Such is the case for Considering Love & Other Magic, yet another example of a film juggling more than it can handle; resulting in an off-putting mishmash of schmaltz, fairy tales, and tragedy.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie