Written and directed by Oscar Wenman-Hyde, co-written by Jade Wenman-Hyde, after moving into their new house, a discordant young couple discover a ladybird infestation, this causes further strain on their relationship until the man unknowingly swallows one. Starring: Oliver Harding, Saffron Walters and Bailey Dowler.
Romance is a tricky genre to get right, no matter whether it be intended as comedy, drama or otherwise, creating a genuinely sympathetic and touching connection is no easy task. Unfortunately, Love with Black Spots isn’t quite up to the challenge. The dialogue starts out on a rocky note and the story can’t quite get going before the credits roll. It’s playing with an intensely sentimental note, which is deepened by the overt choice of music, making it difficult to create an authentic atmosphere. Unfortunately a key problem is that the story feels thin, the crux of their relationship issues is rather superficial so it’s hard to build the plot around it. As well as having the theme of ladybirds running throughout it which is a bit of a conflict, insects and romance don’t naturally go hand in hand, or at least not in an indoor setting.
There’s a struggle to hit the right tone without being able to build a sincerity or depth to it. Visually, outside of an unusual but interesting opening shot choice, it plays things with an everyday, grounded note. It moves through a variety of locations to stop it from feeling closed off, although in the same sense, it misses out on building the tension or claustrophobia you typically find with relationship trouble stories. There’s also a few moments here and there which feel a little unnatural, with characters acting in ways that don’t feel organic.
Unfortunately, that’s a problem which extends into the acting, the performances never quite feel at ease. The chemistry between the leads never really appears, the connection feels quite platonic so it then hinders the progression and complications to the story. Additionally, in today’s landscape having two characters who both look extremely young moving into a house together feels a little hard to connect with. Their youthful appearance is another hinderance to making the story flow more naturally as the dialogue and problems feel more suited to an older married couple.
Love with Black Spots sadly can’t quite get everything on the same page. The tone is going for something very sentimental while the story wants to go in a dramatic direction, and the visual style is stuck somewhere in the middle. There are moments of potential to the directorial style when it goes off book but it mostly stays in safe territory. Ultimately, it misses out on creating enough sincerity or authenticity to draw you into the story.