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"Love the Hard Way" Movie Review

A Trainwreck of Love

By

Love the Hard Way movie

Adrien Brody and Charlotte Ayanna in "Love the Hard Way"

Kino International
Before Adrien Brody surged to fame among the movie-going populace with his Academy Award-winning performance as Wladyslaw Szpilman in Roman Polanski’s "The Pianist," he had already been well on the way to establishing himself as a major player in independent/off-beat films. However it’s most certainly because of his critically acclaimed performance in "The Pianist" that "Love the Hard Way" is even getting the opportunity to be seen. "Love the Hard Way" premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in August 2001 and finally with its June 2003 limited theatrical release, audiences are getting a chance to discover this buried treasure.

Brody stars as Jack: con artist, petty criminal, and womanizer extraordinaire. Women seem to be attracted to his bad boy persona (isn’t that usually the way lust works?), and he takes full advantage of his rep as he fills his bed with random women, none of which he cares one iota about. Then along comes Claire (Charlotte Ayanna). Claire’s a serious student, hard-working, intelligent and sincere. She’s also quite attractive, leaving Jack no option but to hit on her. Blind to all of his many faults, Claire falls hard. Jack gets scared and pulls away. Claire calls, visits unexpectedly, and keeps hoping he’ll see the light and leave behind his life of crime. You get the picture. The downward spiral of love and betrayal continues until Jack and Claire turn down a dark path that should have been avoided at all costs.

Set in New York City, director Peter Sehr turns that city’s streets into supporting characters in a loving though brutally realistic look at the seedy underbelly of the Big Apple. Gritty, grainy, and teeming with unseen menace, the streets provide no sanctuary for "Love the Hard Way’s" lost and confused leading characters.

Adrien Brody is phenomenal – as usual – in this role. He must walk a very fine line between alienating the audience and going overboard and making Jack into a caricature of a pathetic loner. In Brody’s hands, Jack is flawed but real. One moment he’s a jerk you cringe away from, the next he’s a sympathetic figure.

I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of Brody’s costar, Charlotte Ayanna. Her heart wrenching performance in "Love the Hard Way" bodes well for what we can expect of her in the future. Talented with girl-next-door good looks, Ayanna infuses soul into a very tough role. From the wide-eyed college student to the hardened cynical woman she transitions into, Ayanna shows she’s someone to keep an eye out for.

"Love the Hard Way" is a hard film to watch. It’s a twisted romantic tale of love gone totally wrong. While it’s tough to watch, it’s also impossible to look away from.

GRADE: B

"Love the Hard Way" was directed by Peter Sehr (full cast and crew list) and is not yet rated.

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