Lust Life Love is an open and honest look at the sex-positive lifestyle. An immersive and affecting film, directors Stephanie Sellars and Benjamin Feuer have given us a movie about self-identity that you really wouldn’t have seen before.
Veronica Willow (Stephanie Sellars) is a thirty-something bisexual blogger who writes about her polyamorous sex life in New York City. Independent, confident, sensual and free, Veronica seems to have it all: girlfriend Joanne, lover Pedro, an array of intriguing friends and strangers she enjoys at sex parties. Then she meets monogamous, unhappily married Daniel (Jake Choi). Seduced by the challenge, Veronica pursues him, and they dive into an affair.
Taken from the semi-autobiographical experiences of the star, writer and co-director Stephanie Sellars. Lust Life Love is a fascinating glimpse into a world possibly the vast majority know little of. Throughout the film, we feel how authentic the story is. Even if this were just about monogamous people, we would relate to it. This strength in the script allows a much wider audience to feel connected with the characters and situation in this sex-positive feature.
Directors Sellars and Benjamin Feuer rightfully fill Lust Life Love with the intimate goings-on at sex parties and the empowerment of polyamory. However, for all of the, at times explicit content, beating at its core is a film about self-discovery in one’s self. So be it via Veronica’s realisation about how she has perhaps neglected herself in the search for that more meaningful connection or Daniel. He has come into this sexually adventurous lifestyle with open arms. But also unknowing as to how actions still mean something, even if it is more open.
More likely than not, you will not see a film that portrays this sex-positive world in this light and in as honest a way as it does here. For those who are unaware of the world’s complexities are in any way interested, Lust Life Love almost runs as the perfect introduction to it. Some people will always have the thought that being sex-positive means giving yourself to anything and everything. Sellars successfully refutes that simple premise by showing how emotions are just as important. This is even presented within the first scene where she talks to a couple who want to include her in a sexual encounter. Setting some form of rules is important. Making sure everyone is comfortable is vital. Otherwise, the entire experience is for nought.
As Veronica learns herself as she hurts her primary partner Joanne due to her actions with Daniel and then onto herself when Daniel begins to explore this new environment, love is vital. In one of her narrated blog posts, she mentions that with each partner. She tries to find or finds a little piece to love with each new lover. However, she is entirely unprepared when someone like Daniel comes along and consumes all of her heart. This honesty in her film allows us to feel a greater connection with the characters and, thus, the story.
Lust Life Love is an intimate film, and with Ari Rothschild’s careful cinematography, we are thrown into this community. When we follow Veronica initially, it is with carefree ease, as the camera dictates her mental state. She is free and open to anything, but as the film carries on, that breezy lens becomes more focused, more static, only opening up to roaming around when we get to the parties and sexual encounters. It is an intelligent thematic choice and helps push the point home from our directors.
Sellars and Choi have great chemistry that allows the one-sided emotional relationship between the two to form believably. Sellars particularly standing out as she takes the confidence of knowing this story and character literally like the back of her hand and can go forth with her acting choices more boldly. You feel her conflict as her usual way of life is thrown askew by her feelings for Daniel.
Jake Choi is excellent as Daniel, a man who starts the film as this sensitive man, who continually thinks of others (epitomised with Veronica’s wonderfully awkward bumping scene). However, as soon as he is shown this world, he is too keen to jump in with two feet. His first night with Veronica is full of impetuous, of a man who isn’t quite sure what he wants but knows that he wants to explore his options at least before he realises it, much to the eventual chagrin of Veronica.
Yet this is Veronica’s story, and she makes sure through her performance that we are given a character with who we can resonate. So as she goes through her self discovery. We actively want that for her, and that can be a tough thing to achieve when you are also the writer and director of a film.
We are left with a thought-provoking film in Lust Life Love that takes us on a journey less travelled, and thank goodness it does. Not a film to be missed.
Lust Life Love is showing at the Queen’s World Film Festival until the 28th June, watch it here
For more information about the festival click here
For more of our coverage of the festival please check out our reviews below:
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