By Don Simpson | November 16, 2009
Director: Jeremy Cohen
Writer(s): Jeremy Cohen, Stephanie Hunt
Starring: Troy Gonzales, Arsene Dupin, Gopal Bidari, Dominic James, Danny Malone, Cyril Neville
As you would expect by film titled Love & Tambourines, it is a self-proclaimed postmodern essay on the topics of love and tambourines. The film alternates between “man on the street” interviews (of which the one with Tyler Womak, of the Austin band Hollywood Gossip, is the most entertaining) and the story of two close friends – Stephanie (Stephanie Hunt) and Troy (Troy Gonzales) – celebrating Valentine’s Day together.
It is a highly simplistic “day in the life” concept told in a thoughtful, yet teetering between absurd and surreal, manner. The alternating between “real” and “fiction” while reminiscing about the meaning of love is nothing new to 2009 – the tactic was also used in Paper Heart (which was also written by a female lead). It would be difficult not to consider Love & Tambourines the low-budget and home-grown (Love & Tambourines was shot in Austin, Texas) version of Paper Heart; but Love & Tambourines is a much different film. It is quirkier (we’ll chalk that up to the “tambourine effect”) and refuses to abide by Hollywood conventions (such as the “rom-com” element in Paper Heart). Also, Love & Tambourines makes no reference to the film within the film (so the “man on the street” interviews are not simply part of a documentary that the characters are making), instead Stephanie and Troy are simply breaking the proverbial fourth wall of the cinema and taking us with them as they talk to real people outside of the confines of the film in which they are starring.
Co-produced, directed, shot, edited and co-written by Jeremy Cohen (Stephanie Hunt was the co-producer and co-writer), Love & Tambourines is unbelievably cute, irresistibly silly and irreverently nonsensical – the portion of the film about tangerines and tambourines reveals these traits at their utmost abundance. Every once in a while, Love and Tambourines veers toward being a pretentious art film (most notably with the French narration), but it knows when to back off – only using those ploys intermittently, resulting in significant comedic effect each time. That said – there is a strangely perverse “man on the street” interview with Gopal Bidari (by trade a sound mixer for films, not an actor) using the moniker “Ahnuld” (while speaking with an accent somewhat akin to Schwarzenegger, get it?); and that is the only moment when this otherwise twee pseudo-doc veers astray.