Cupid's Mistake

2001, Movie, NR, 70 mins


Wearing its $980 price tag as a badge of honor, writer-director Young Man Kang's no-budget video feature proves two things: You don't need a multimillion dollar budget to make a film, and sometimes you get exactly what you pay for. Set in and around Venice Beach, CA, Kang's film is a series of interconnected scenarios, each dealing with a case of unrequited love — one of "Cupid's mistakes." In the first, raven-haired actress Susan (Susan Petry) gets up the nerve to tell creepy video producer Gil (Everardo Gil) how she feels about him. He's disgusted by her show of affection and, after humiliating her, asks her to leave. In the next segment, charming Gil hires his own crush, a giggly, bubble-brained model named Toya (Toya Cho) for a video shoot on the beach. After much free-associative "conversation," Gil gets around to confessing how much he loves her. Toya tells Gil he's being unfair (or something) and storms off. The third chapter finds the determined Gil stalking Toya as she goes out on a gym date with bodybuilder Ken (Ken Yasuda), followed by some window shopping a deux. Gil follows them back to her place, climbs the fire escape and watches as Toya puts on some music, lights a few candles and opens her heart over a glass of wine. Despite the romantic setting, Ken is shocked by her declaration of love: He tells Toya he has trouble "thinking of her as a woman," and warns that their friendship will suffer if she doesn't back off. Besides, he's seeing someone else. That someone's identity is meant to come as a surprise (though the film's structure should make it obvious), and it would be churlish to ruin what small entertainment value this film has to offer. None of this self-centered palaver justifies spending $980, a budget which really comes as no great shock. The film is entirely shot on video, and Kang reportedly paid his actors only $100 for their services. It shows: Scenes are woefully under-rehearsed, and much of the obviously improvised dialogue would seem entirely random if it weren't so repetitive. Kang clearly meant these vignettes to evoke a delicate sense of poignancy, but his parade of heartbreak leaves one with a sense of enormous relief that none of these lovesick fools will be reproducing any time soon. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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