A fish out of water, drowning outside the fishbowl.
This movie feels like a voyeuristic look in to the life of Mark, a widower who lost his wife unexpectedly and now must care for his two-year-old son.
Mark is played by Mark Webber, who also wrote and directed the movie. Mark is a struggling actor trying to make his way while providing for Isaac. For a two-year-old, Isaac Love gives a beautiful performance, or maybe it’s the direction that is better, because I doubt if Isaac ever realized he was the main character in a movie.
The movie has less of a traditional plot or storyline and follows Mark around in a very shaky camera, documentary-style glimpse into the lives of Mark and Isaac.
Mark wanders through life in a dazed depression, making efforts to grow and to find work, but never fully committing to himself and never freeing himself from the weight of his deceased wife.
As an actor, he appears to be on the fringe. He is friends with Jason Ritter and Michael Cera (who play themselves) and he lands an audition opposite Amanda Seyfried (also playing herself), but he is always the outlier, never quite finding his way as an actor or a father.
At times, The End of Love lacks the same direction as Mark, aimlessly meandering along, trying to find a rhythm. There are some incredibly real moments in this movie. Mark and Isaac visit the grave of his former wife, where he begs and pleads for help with Isaac. It’s touching and sympathetic, because Mark is begging for help and Isaac does not seem to understand the consequences of what has happened.
Mark tries to build a new relationship with Lydia (Shannyn Sossamon), but the progression shows he is not ready to move on. Similarly, he tries to rekindle an old flame with Jocelin (Jocelin Donahue). But with each new relationship, he reveals that he is still locked into and unable to overcome the feelings and sentiment he feels toward his wife.
Mark has problems. He has roommate problems. He has fatherhood problems. He has friend problems and he has relationship problems. He is unable to cope. He makes bad decisions and is borderline self-destructive. His saving grace is his understanding that he must continually find a way to be strong, continually overcome, and be a father to Isaac.
The End of Love portrays a man lost and a father uncertain. At its best, Webber creates a movie that pulls the viewer into the onslaught of hopelessness like a fish out of its bowl, flipping and flopping, hoping for the salvation of water. At its worst, The End of Love, much like its main character, is lost and uncertain.
Review by Gordon Shelly, special to Influx Magazine