I brought along a couple girlfriends, including at least one other hopeless romantic, to check out Isabelle Czajka’s “Living on Love Alone” at the San Francisco International Film Festival. The French title, “D’amour et d’eau fraiche,” which translates literally to “love and fresh water,” is more commonly used to describe how one feels at the early (and perhaps if you are lucky, even later) stages of a relationship when you are falling in love, and feel as if you didn’t need anything else – food, sleep, family – but your love alone. A bit sappy, but intoxicating as well…If you take the love out of it, it can simply mean being carefree, without any worries, or refusing to grow up. We can all relate to that. Being a grown-up is overrated.
Fresh out of college and struggling to find a (meaningful) job and make ends meet, Julie starts to realize that’s the case. Even Paris isn’t enough to save her from the reality that is sinking in: working sucks and the bills don’t pay themselves.
This, combined with Julie’s young age, and somewhat inherently rebellious nature, leads her to seek refuge elsewhere, including the arms and beds of older, more jaded men, and ultimately, in the South of France with her own dark and mysterious “Clyde,” aka Ben (the incredibly hot Pio Marmai who is currently making a film with Audrey Tautou from Amelie).
Julie and Ben are literally living on love alone, no running water, primitive roof over their head. Enter guns, conspiracy, and crime, and well, anything can happen.
In response to an audience comment at the post-show Q&A, Czajka admitted the film’s evocation of Bonnie and Clyde and even of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. She also shared with us that she purposefully chose Julie because of the stage of life she was at – post college, in transition, looking for a job, and somewhat vulnerable and exposed. This combination made it especially easy for Julie to be swept up in the moment.
But I wonder, regardless of where we are in our lives, don’t we all aspire to some degree to “vivre d’amour et d’eau fraiche?” Even if your answer is “no,” you should check out Living on Love Alone at the film festival — there’s a lot more humor and twists to it than the title on its own may suggest.
The film screens again on Wednesday evening at 6:45 p.m. at the New People theater (down the street from the Kabuki in San Francisco), and on Friday at 9:00 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive Theater in Berkeley.