Monday, January 18, 2010

DVD Review: Love Conquers Paul

Colin Bannon’s indie film Love Conquers Paul is a bit confusing at first glance…in a good way. During the first few scenes, we get a glimpse of handsome but socially awkward young Paul, (Brendan Bradley), going through his daily routine, which includes videotaping unsuspecting young women on the streets. So, we wonder, is Paul a stalker or just a lonely misfit?

Sure, it’s a creepy premise, but we grow to like Paul. Instead of using the videotapes for untoward purposes, he uses them to learn more about his “crushes” so he can approach them without fear. He’s so clueless and likable that we we root for him to climb out of his social morass. Paul’s adventures are a pastiche of despair, witty banter, and personal growth. There’s nice guy Paul, eating his dinner by himself every night and polishing his pottery collection - and then he spends the night watching videotapes of women he fancies. His only confidantes are Mr. Feigenbaum (Peter Riegert) his boss at the dry cleaners where he works, and his gay best friend Ray (Russell Garofalo).

Love Conquers Paul isn't always what it appears to be on the surface. It's  a romantic comedy, but parts of it are downright depressing in an off the cuff, real life way. Even potentially icky scenes spin into something genuine. Ray tries to seduce Paul, but they get past this faux paus and their friendship grows stronger. Paul’s chance encounter with beautiful and brash artist Esoterica (Elizabeth Wood), evolves into his first love affair and unleashes a chain of events that transform his life forever.

Love Conquers Paul won the Lynn Redgrave Award for Best Feature at the 2009 Kent Film Festival and was an official selection at 2009’s Dances with Films, the 2009 San Luis Obispo Film Festival, and the 2009 Syracuse International Film Festival. Love Conquers Paul is a quirky gem of a film with excellent performances by Brendan Bradley and Russell Garofalo.

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