By: Trevor Jeffery
In Some Kind of Love, the filmmaker makes a sloppy observation that his family is emotionally distant from each other, and he presumes that this is interesting and unique enough for an audience.
Filmmaker Thomas Burstyn travels to London to document his aunt Yolanda Sonnabend, a 77-year-old hoarding, shut-in painter. When he arrives, he finds his uncle (renowned AIDS researcher Dr. Joseph Sonnabend) living with her and caring for her. Burstyn turns the camera on Joseph as well, despite the doctor’s reluctance.
Throughout the documentary, Burstyn, as the narrator, interrupts to insert his own feelings into the documentary – first, when he discovers his uncle is also interesting, and announces to the viewer that he will also be included as a subject of the documentary. Every few minutes, Burstyn derails what character drama there is with a series of rhetorical questions, or with a reminder that he is estranged from his brother. Frustrating and uninteresting interactions are the overcooked meat of this doc, as most scenes involve Joseph or Yolanda talking to the camera about how they don’t connect to each other, or interacting on a surface level that stops giving insight after the second or third time.
Despite the constant foreshadowing and indications that Burstyn has decided to contact his brother, there is what must be the least amount of follow-through necessary: the audience is given less than two minutes of footage of the two reuniting, with no dialogue but instead a voice over about Burstyn’s journey of forgiveness.
Some Kind of Love ends up being a narrative-less character piece about a pair of siblings living together for convenience and duty over preference, and how the filmmaker relates that to his life. It plods along through snippets of banal conversations and voice-overs of Burstyn going through an existential crisis. It gets too engrossed in itself and becomes a documentary about the process of making a documentary; Burstyn can’t take the focus away from what he’s doing long enough to tell any kind of story deeper than “Joseph and Yolanda don’t quite get along, but they love each other anyways”, which is at its heart a sweet story, but a likely one as well.
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