52 Words for Love was written, directed, edited and produced by Andrea Moodie and James Blokland. James is known for editing documentaries and Andrea for her time as a writer on Property Brothers. And it feels like they both stretched themselves far too thin, but also works exactly as they’ve learned how to do in the past.
The movie is unique in the way that it has a very loose plot that ties all (read: arguably too many) characters together. Alice (played by Stacy Iseman) has never fallen in love. So as a response, she launches a website (that she hand coded herself) where once a week over the next year, she posts a synonym for love. She includes a question and allows visitors to answer and respond in order to build some sort of community. She sends the link out as a mass e-mail. According to the synopsis, that e-mail is a “gentle ripple” across her social network which then helps her discover things about love and relationships. The problem with that final statement is that the movie doesn’t necessarily support that belief.
The movie implies it helps cause a father to reach out to one of his daughters in an attempt to repair their relationship that has eroded due to a… second marriage? The film keeps it very vague and never informs the audience what had happened. Other than that, the rest of the characters seem to either have never received the e-mail or brushed it off and don’t bring it up again. During this year, Alice is diagnosed with cancer and she is put on the back-burner of the film, acting as if her disease is a mystery. Even with doctors in hidden shots say things like “in six months you’ll be fine.” He also mentions a specialist she can say and decides to mention that he used to date at one point. This bears the point that the script is not good. The dialogue isn’t realistic, and yes, sometimes you don’t want realism in a script but then the dialogue needs to leap off the page and wow you, this does not.
At the same time, her best friend Madison helps take care of her and spends some time away from her jealous husband. He seems nice but he mentions that while Madison is taking care of her best friend who has cancer, he wanted to remind her that he exists as well. The film lasts a year and we aren’t aware of how long she’s been gone when he says this, so depending on the time frame answers the question on how jealous or human he may be. It’s edited oddly, in terms of that it feels like a documentary. This makes sense considering James background as a good editor of good documentaries and the fact that some of the genuine and sweet moments found in the film are supposed to be part of a documentary that Madison had started to support Alice in the website.
The film is messy, but they made it. I’m hoping their next projects which do seem more interesting flows better together. It took them two years to shoot 52 Words for Love as they had a gap because Andrea was diagnosed with cancer herself. She like Alice, thankfully fully recovered and was able to go back to what she loves. Art imitates life sometimes.