A Love Affair Of Sorts is billed as the first feature to be shot entirely on Flip cameras. Given that as of April, the Flip is no longer being manufactured, there’s a good chance it’ll also end up being the only feature to earn that designation. The Flip is an artifact of technology made redundant by the inclusion of cameras and video recorders on smartphones. As a case in point: Oldboy’s Park Chan-wook won the prize for best short at this year’s Berlin Film Festival with “Night Fishing,” shot entirely on the iPhone 4.
A Love Affair Of Sorts does not make this seem like any great loss. The Flip was created to be cheap, small, and easy to operate, ideal for shooting things on the fly. Used for a long-form project, it makes for a physically taxing movie, jiggling and off-center and filled with dizzying whip pans. Though this doesn’t make it any easier to take in, the amateur camerawork is part of the storyline: Writer-director David Guy Levy plays a man documenting himself for an art project, or maybe just for company, as he spends the holidays alone. He catches a pretty girl shoplifting from a bookstore, and after he reassures her that he doesn’t intend to get her in trouble, they become friends. Lili Bordán co-stars as the Hungarian nanny of a family currently out of town on vacation, and soon she’s showing up with a Flip of her own, so the pair can film their budding relationship and possible romance.
“I didn’t have a really good thesis going into this,” Levy’s character tells Bordán, but Levy the filmmaker certainly does, and it probably involves discussion of “gaze” and “directorial control.” Bordán, who has a boyfriend but is happy to flirt with her vulnerable, seemingly well-off new acquaintance, comes across as predatory, particularly given how she’s introduced. But the main story is framed by a narrative rug-pull in which the two leads appear to drop their characters and talk as themselves, at which point Levy is cast as the suspect one, given how he uses the project to get closer to an actress with whom he hopes to get more involved. These discussions are more engaging than the film, which is infuriatingly navel-gazing and insubstantial. It’s like a reality show in which the viewers are only allowed to see backstage interviews where people overanalyze the actual action, all of which took place somewhere unseen—where it was hopefully shot on professional-grade equipment.