When our ancestors call upon us, we as humans wish to push for our freedom and individuality in a world that may not be full of the brightest and shiniest moments. So, what does that lead to? Goodbye country, hello America, it seems. One place where the basis of a “new life” becomes a metaphor for leaving the past (kind of) and pushing onto the future (successfully?).
That is the basic premise of I Love America, as a single woman breaks out of Paris to head to Los Angeles and wishes to take a chance on love again (no, not quoting ABBA here, even if that would be almost ideal for placing a song of theirs in this feature). We meet Lisa, played by Sophie Marceau, who tries to open herself up in this new world while vividly remembering the pains of her past. Not daddy issues, but the mother who continued to cast aside and abandon her child for her prospects and livelihood. If Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy met with Lisa, the camera probably would’ve shattered with all the past sins of thy parents.
Once Lisa’s mother passes away, she can now incorporate freedom into her life by trying to date (which she hasn’t done in three years). By her side is the charming Luka (Djanis Bouzyani), that encourages her to live a little and have some fun, even if she isn’t the ideal age for a woman on the free market. She does have the lights of disco balls from her younger days to remind her of the cycle of life, so why not try?
A few awkward (maybe a little more than necessary) dates come along, and Lisa finally meets a young, intelligent man named John (Colin Woodell). They hit it off, and the story of love becomes compounded by the usual “dishonesty/betrayal tactic” that inevitably ends with them making amends to get back together at the finish line.
Pushing aside the customary habits utilized in romcom storytelling nowadays, this is a breezy feature to invest in. Not exactly the feeling of the American dream, but it’s not very tacky either. Marceau gives a solid turnout for this role, reflecting on the distant memories of her younger days while understanding a character that is conflicted with love (where sometimes she bares it all to reveal her insights). Her chemistry with Bouzyani produces an amusing time as they banter on about love, coitus, and life, and her intimate time spent with Woodell’s character doesn’t feel forceful or labored.
Flashbacks contribute gradually to the subtle message behind a parent’s abandonment, where one’s world starts seeing shades of grey for each moment. And the feature has some gratifying doses of comedy sprinkled in (indeed, Lisa’s date with the 50-year-old man requiring an EpiPen shot on his lower back area in public will catalyze laughter). Who knows, maybe the usage of a dating app will remind all a chance to explore more outside of their shell (something Luka will learn as he searches for his turtle); it is what a prophecy teller informed Lisa of what can become utilized if she isn’t willing to find love (yet).
Director Lisa Azuelos finally has a feature on her hands that provides a continuous narrative with pop culture references and fun moments. Even if it doesn’t break a new mold or try different approaches, I Love America reassures our adoration of this fine, prosperous land.