CLFF Review: Love’s Not What it Used to Be

 | 2013 | 90 min.
Director: Gabriel Ochoa
Genre:  |  with English subtitles
Shown with To R.P. Salazar with Love  

Paz (Blanca Romero) and Jorge’s (Alberto San Juan) marriage is in a rut. The couple is unexplainably off. Although it seems that they have neared the end, both sides want to avoid the inevitable. But will they be able to be in sync again?

Albert (Carlos Álvarez- Nóvoa) is a professor and soon to be retired opthamologist. Just when he begins dreading retirement, a funeral of a friend has reunited him with his ex-wife Irene (Petra Martínez). Both Irene and Albert become excited at the prospect of rekindling their love.

Lucia (Aida Folch) is a physics student and part time cook/waitress in a local restaurant. She rambunctiously bumps into Alex (Nicolás Coronado), a medical intern, and immediately the two become struck by one another. Although reluctant to fall in like and then love with Alex, Lucia finds herself breaking walls down for him even if he might not always be around later.  

First-time filmmaker Gabriel Ochoa presents a multi-protagonist rom-com in ‘Love is Not What it Used to Be.’ Although reminiscent of multiple love story films in Hollywood, we are offered a less kitsch version. The characters live in a city in Spain and are all somehow connected. Viewers witness the progression of the stories in which love starts or ends.

The film is centered around the physics of love, its paths or directions that separate or converge again after time. Whether ‘Love is Not What it Used to Be’ is a strong romantic film is arguable. The rapid back and forth between the different love stories can be a little dizzying, and there are times you find yourself already knowing what will probably come next. However, the rom-com is not lacking in “awws”, sighs, and a few laughs here and there. Elderly couple Albert and Irene make the film especially charming, but in every story there is a way for you to relate.

The muted color palette and simple cinematography works hand in hand with the accessible stories in the film. The b-roll of the city, its inhabitants, the traffic, and electrical wiring expand the possibility of many other people within the Spanish city undergoing a story similar to our protagonists. Many conflicts in the film involve lack of communication, personal barriers, paths or directions people take in love, and the shots of the metropolitan life fit well with the conflicts. The viewer is constantly reminded of different points or stages people anywhere could be in when it comes to falling in or out of love, as well as the many obstacles that present themselves in the process.

Ochoa, normally known for his screenwriting and directing work in Spanish television, presents a pleasant film about a small interrelated body of people that are all experiencing the properties and nature of love. ‘Love is Not What it Used to Be’ will have you feeling wishful and reassure you to leave your love life in the hands of fate.