Jude Klassen’s feature film debut Love in the Sixth is a hodgepodge of “stuff”, but I kind of expected that.
Klassen, an entertainment personality/journalist/musician/writer, is known for her provocative channel on YouTube, but her fondness for variety shows has pushed her to experiment with different platforms. Five years ago, she experimented with a stage show called Judecast 4 that included interviews with comedians, and musical numbers featuring her alter ego Tasha James and jazz fusion band The Shuffle Demons. The evening was a freewheeling fever dream, which is why I appreciated the restraint that writer/director Klassen shows in her first film.
Her unhinged enthusiasm is afoot in Love in the Sixth as the movie runs through musical numbers and documentary segments featuring women speaking openly about love, while also falling back on a multi-layered narrative about romantic complications. It’s a hefty load, and the audience occasionally wonders if the genre-bending is, in fact, benefiting “Klassen the performer” and not “Klassen the filmmaker”. Thankfully, the film is aided by the Butler Brothers, a filmmaking duo responsible for Canadian indies Mourning Has Broken and this year’s breakout First Round Down. The Butlers, who have co-edited Love in the Sixth and also portray hilariously outlandish siblings within the film, understand how to keep a story tied down. They’re able to establish a flow that keeps the film moving forward while also abiding to Klassen’s artistic vision. Jude Klassen and the Butlers work incredibly well together.
Love in the Sixth is mainly about Dani Spungen (Klassen) and her on-again-off-again lover Sid (T.C. Folkpunk). Intrinsically jealous Sid pushes Dani aside, but is immediately overtaken by territorial emotion when she even so much as smiles at another man. Dani knows she deserves better, yet always finds her way back to Sid. Klassen and Folkpunk are convincing as a flawed couple trying to make things work, but Mika Kay (a cute kid who plays Dani’s observant and eco-friendly daughter, Kat) is a scene-stealer as she challenges Sid and delivers her lines earnestly. I laughed out loud when she quizzes a young boy about the environment. With concern, she asks, “do you want your grandchildren to know what birds are?”
The songs are exceptional and catchy as hell. I particularly liked a flippant Grease-inspired ditty aptly titled ‘F*cking Love’ – I’ve been humming it for days. All of the tunes are available to purchase on the film’s website, and I bet you’ll find yourself revisiting them just as I did.
Love in the Sixth is overstuffed, but it’s amusingly off-the-wall. Nonetheless, it receives a recommendation to Jude’s fanbase and those forgiving movie goers willing to support any form of sheer ambition. I would also recommend Jude Klassen to pursue this career move to filmmaking. With the supervision of experienced colleagues, the artist finds a sweet spot in film that prior mediums were unable to provide.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie