The short film Love in the Evening/Morning, by Alexandra Savu, deals with the ancient theme of the clash between reality and the depths of human feelings. The conflict between these two dimensions has often been represented in cinema, as in literature, as an impossible fit between the Outside and the Inside. Where the Outside is configured as a foreign, unlimited and dark world, and the Inside as a protective shell in which lovers/friends/lovers huddle in an embrace that seems to want to escape even the force of gravity. Precisely for this reason the film is divided into two parts, two times, two sections that are profoundly separated and linked only by the thin thread lost in time of love that unites the two protagonists. In the first part, the Author immediately wants to make it clear that she will be tackling a narrative territory already crossed by others, so much so that the opening credits and the black and white clearly refer to a certain cinema of the 50s/60s, romantic and only apparently light. Yet, as we get into the speeches of the two protagonists, we realize that the meta-textual references begin to get complicated. The hotel room where the two chose to celebrate their first seven years together soon becomes a sort of claustrophobic cell, like the small apartment in A bout de souffle (Breathless), by Jean Luc Godard, film which in 1960 opened the successful season of the French Nouvelle Vague. There too the protagonist, played by an extraordinary Jean-Paul Belmondo, was running away from an external reality in which he was a miserable thief and swindler, and was desperately looking for a sort of lifeline in an American student he had fallen in love with. In the hotel room of Love in the Evening/Morning, Emmanuel closes himself in the protective shell embodied by Gabriella to escape his legal problems, while Gabriella, initially unaware of everything, seems to fall off a cliff when a detective knocks on their room and later, after the confrontation with Emmanuel, she will find herself swallowing the pain alone. Here ends the first part, the part dedicated to the Inside, to the shell, but also to the darkness, to incomprehension, to the impossibility of mending the ancient rift between dream and reality. Then comes the day. Seven years later. And seven is certainly a non-random number, a magical number connected to perseverance and luck. Suddenly, as happens to the stars that make long journeys in the dark, the Outside finally finds its agreement with the Inside, and reality, its wounds healed, seems to awaken to a new day. Emmanuel and Gabriella are reunited. She is a babysitter who remained faithful to her old love. She has no other. She has no children. As she had promised him. Initially, upon seeing him again, she would logically like to send him back, to the darkness from which she comes, but in the end she lets herself be convinced by Emmanuel's words, who choose her delicacy and utmost respect. "I'm even ready to wash your car, or walk with you, just to be near you." The interpretation of Matt Victory, in the role of Emmanuel, is very effective, and that of Brett Butler, in those of Gabriella, is truly extraordinary. Two performances modeled in the mud of reality, without frills and lace, profoundly true like love that confronts itself not with its own falsified concept, but with the harshness of the world, with the force of gravity that pushes everything to die, and to live eternally.
- to get to know the director -
"My goal is to create art that makes people feel strong emotions. The entertainment industry is built to heal internal wounds and inspire audiences to take control of their lives in times of doubt. I aspire to help viewers perceive love in a better light that could enrich their experiences in life."
What is the message you want to communicate with this film?
I have made this 2-part film about the impact of a major breakup to reveal the real personal changes someone who experiences true love goes through. Falling in love is easy, but staying in love is harder. The public will see the crazy states love brings people to in my characters, thus normalizing the pain and struggles of making a relationship work. Ultimately, as a hopeless romantic and as a creative director, I am hoping my film will encourage viewers to have more hope and patience in love.
How did you start making movies?
I have been making movies or analyzing them ever since I can remember. I’ve always had a great interest in the behind the scenes of how movies are made, and this industry has deeply fascinated me since I started thinking of what I want to be “when I grow up”. I started by watching them when I was young and I remember it was my favorite activity of the day. And then I saved up for a camera and started using it with any opportunity I had to create content that would be impactful. I was experimenting and I went to workshops across my city, where I realized I am serious about this.
Do you always have clear ideas when you are on set? How much weight do you give to improvisation and how much weight do you give to planning?
I am insanely dedicated and passionate about the projects I pursue. The more ownership and creative freedom I have in a professional setting, the more engaged my heart and soul get into the making of what I am working on. Thus, I sometimes love being carried away by the beauty of the art and allowing the emotions and people we work with to lead the way to the final product. However, other times, I can also be very strategic, analytical and precise with the work I deliver; I pay close attention to detail and create a list of priorities before making both the main and small decisions.
What kind of relationship do you establish with the actors? Do you think these should be left free to express their potential or are you convinced that they should be followed in every single aspect?
Actors should be completely trusted. Once they are cast, they have to be treated respectfully, giving them the self-assurance that their opinions, beliefs and feelings towards any aspect of the film will be thoroughly considered. After all, it's the actors telling the story, if they feel they are too "micro-managed" or "told how to say it", they will cease seeing the value in the production.
What kind of relationship do you have with the universal grammar of cinematographic language? How do you decide which shot to use in a scene, or what camera movement to apply to achieve your goal?
I am really passionate about Rodrigo Prieto’s style that can switch from his emphasis on handheld techniques and rich colorful palette when shooting non-U.S. productions, to the invisible behind-the-scenes DP Hollywood has with a stabilized camera movement when performing the cinematography of American films. He switches very smoothly between the soft focus of his Mexican style to the Steadicam of the American industry, yet he always succeeds in highlighting the details of the characters, their expressions, reactions, thoughts, and intentions through cinematography. I would say I am like him in a way that my multi- cultural background makes me adjust among my different camera styles and among the different productions I lead as a DP, depending on their genre, tone, and emotional goal the director has for the films.
How much of yours do you put into the movies you make? Do you limit yourself to giving your stylistic imprint or do you try to communicate the truths you believe in, or the moods you would like to convey?
I believe the more personal filmmakers are, the more authentic and impactful their productions will be. Unless we get comfortable exposing our darkest sides or deepest emotions out there as entertainment leaders or artists, we will not experience the full potential of creating art and offering it to other people to analyze.