Writer/director/actor Jude Klassen’s first feature film Love in The Sixth begins with a compelling opening scene. Interviewed with her boyfriend, a woman states she is “still waiting for that zing”. Her long-term boyfriend looks on, attempting to hide his dismay. And that is the first minute.
Love in The Sixth is a genre-bending film that adds a new edge to the classic environmental film style. Klassen describes it as “an unromantic musical comedy about extinction”. The story orbits around Dani Spungen (Klassen), host of the Martini Think Tank, literary interviews that are live-streamed from her house while, as the name would suggest, martinis are consumed. Her teenage daughter Kat (Mika Kay) as well as an eclectic band of singing and dancing characters make up the rest of the cast.
Her relationship with Sid (T.C. Folkpunk), a musician and master of the muttered acidic one-liner, is consumed by his jealousy and lack of attention. Meanwhile Sid is kindly dealing with Spungen’s teenage daughter Kat (Mika Kay) and her probing existential questions of the ‘don’t you care about the planet?’ type. While being accused of apathy, indifference and cynicism, Sid is tolerantly teaching her guitar.
It’s an astute reflection both on parenthood, and the trials of being a teenager when “nobody really understands the truth”. Dani Spungen manages to slip in some excellent retorts herself including the golden, “I need to read Angela’s Ashes again to feel like a good mother”.
Watching Love In The Sixth reminded me of John Cassavetes’ films. Not only his continual analysis of love – discuss it, kill it, hurt each other, destroy it – that was his trademark, but also the style of script that is fluid and as natural as improvisation can be, bringing a perfectly natural awkwardness that only adds to the conversations and situations.
Klassens worked with her family and community of Toronto friends, and the warmth between the cast feels natural, perhaps assisted by filming in her house, which is currently on trend. Look no further than Pedro Almodovar, who used a replica of his in the recently released Pain and Glory.
Klassens is clever and funny, and this is obvious in her film. Although the breakout musical moments create bumps in the narrative (Up Late Talking is my favourite), they perfectly suit Klassen’s collage of life in a community.
Love In The Sixth is released on Amazon Prime in US/UK.
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