At the age of 6, Ian loses his father. Even though he continues life living with his mother, he becomes a quiet, secluded young man who spends most of his time in his room. As a young man he also loses his mother, and is left to himself. He decides to finally do what he has planned for a long time - to end his life. But his fascination of death keeps him alive for a while longer.
"Tin Can Man" might have some competition as my recent favorite Irish movie. Though two completely different movies, so I am ready to let them split that spot, I can't even begin to explain what a surprise "Love Eternal" was. Based on a novel by Kei Ôishi called "In Love with the Dead" (a.k.a. "Loving the Dead" I believe), directed by a name that's completely new to me - Brendan Muldowney. It's no surprise that he has a bunch of short films and a somewhat known feature behind him ("Savage"), neither of which I have seen, considering what he managed to create in this dark drama.
Ian's a troubled young man. He spends his days researching which way to end his life. This is something that his entire life has been leading up to. When he was 6 years old his father died while they were outside playing, something which hurt him a lot because of how much his father meant to him. He became a very secluded kid after that. In his teens he discovered a girl who had hanged herself in the woods. Every day after school he went to visit the girl, starting something of a relationship with her due to his loneliness. His mother finally dies when he's a young adult, leaving behind a notebook to help him live on his own. Everything from recipes to general help such as what to buy at the store. It's the final nail in his coffin, he's ready to end his life. He finds the perfect location for his planned method of suicide, carbon monoxide poisoning. He sits in his car, ready to end it all when he witnesses a van of people arriving to do the same thing. He waits until they're dead and grows fond of one of the girls in the van - and brings her body home with him.
There's something very Japanese about "Love Eternal". I know, I know, it's based on a Japanese novel, but that doesn't automatically mean it will feel (in atmosphere and style) like a Japanese movie. "Love Eternal" does that, which I found to be very interesting. It actually reminds me of Shunji Iwai's "Vampire" in more ways than one. Oddly enough there's a lot of similarity in the suicide aspect of the story and the dark themes. I even had to check if the two were based on the same novel because there's really striking resemblances in certain parts of the movie. I don't mind as they differ enough, but it was interesting to notice. In their entirety they're two difference experiences.
While "Love Eternal" has some brief necrophilia in it, it'd be stupid for that to be what you take from the movie. This is an extremely emotional movie about death of all kinds. Death of a relative, suicide and mortality in general, but just as much about love and loneliness. And not the good, happy part of "love". The movie got to me really fast and it had moments that were very rough to get through emotionally. I might be a softie when it comes to certain things, but it's still somewhat rare for movies to have a personal effect on me. "Love Eternal" left me feeling very insignificant and made me question mortality in a way few movies do. Similar to what "Breaking the Waves" did to me, it's not that it's bleak, but it makes you appreciate what you have but also realizing that tragedy can strike at any time to anyone.
There are two things making this an incredibly beautiful movie. One is the very sensitive cinematography, which complements the dark themes perfectly. The other thing is the actors. This is filled with class acts, but mostly I admire Robert de Hoog in the lead, Pollyanna McIntosh as Naomi who tragically loses her son, and Amanda Ryan as Tina who wants to commit suicide with Ian. Every role is important and portrayed beautifully, but these three made a strong impact on me. They're deserving of any praise given to them for this.
Initially I got into "Love Eternal" not knowing what to expect, but it was a movie that instantly sucked me in and completely messed me up emotionally. It was a hard movie to watch because it brought out the dark themes in the most careful, beautiful way imaginable. Brendan Muldowney's "Savage" isn't a movie that sounds like it would appeal to me, but I know that if he ever makes a movie that sounds even remotely like this, I will be fighting to get to see it. He made something incredible here. I hope others will get the chance to experience this powerful movie. I realize it won't have the same effect on everyone, but I hope it does. I'm emotionally drained by it.