November 6, 2013
Coney Island baby
Love Story (Florian Habicht, 2011). Florian Habicht has an ebullience and charisma that might remind some of a three-way hybrid of Woody Allen, Werner Herzog and a Sacha Baron Cohen creation, and he is naturally drawn to benign eccentrics, which makes New York City his ideal setting. Co-written and edited by Peter O’Donoghue, Love Story is Habicht’s best film yet: an improvisational romantic documentary that gets the excitement of a new city in summer. People he meets on the streets become oracles and guides in his quest towards Masha (Masha Yakovenko), spotted one day on the subway to Coney Island carrying cake on a plate (it must be a sign). The spirit of Habicht’s films has always been open, experimental and almost innocent – see his 9 ½ Weeks-style food scene here – but there is a trickier undertow, as fantasies are sometimes run down by the yellow taxicabs of stark reality. “You know I’m just acting right?” Yakovenko tells him in bed. His other guide through and into his story is his father, photographer Frank Habicht, who skypes from New Zealand. In one of their conversations, Frank steers his son towards Desperately Seeking Susan – apt, as Love Story has much in common with the film that inspired that one, Rivette’s Celine and Julie Go Boating.