Evol: The Theory of Love is the thesis project for writer/director Michael Perrone at the School of Visual Arts. A low-budget indie made for about $100,000, the film is an experimental, thought-provoking film that has already experienced quite a bit of success on the film festival circuit including wins for lead actor Conor Donovan and a Best of Fest prize for the film itself. Shot in 25 days in New York City, New Jersey and Montauk, Evol: The Theory of Love has already screened at the North Hollywood Cinefest, Soho International and Hoboken International Film Festival.
The film tells the story of troubled 17-year-old Jacob (Donovan) , though it tells his story in a less structured way that is without question an intentional artistic choice that will likely work best for those used to the low-budget/indie scene and styles of filmmaking not often found among wide release films. This isn't a bad thing - not at all. If anything, I would likely say that Evol: The Theory of Love is a perfectly suited festival film where Perrone's unique vision and artistic vision will be more easily embraced.
After Jacob finds himself in another round of trouble from vandalizing, he calls it creating art, the "Welcome to Montauk" sign, Jacob's parents opt to force the issue of psychiatric help, a journey that finds Jacob forced to face the brutal realities of life while also, much to his surprise, experiencing what may be real love for the first time.
While this may sound like a schmaltzy story, it's very much not a schmaltzy story in the hands of Perrone. Evol: The Theory of Love is a coming-of-age story, but not a paint-by-numbers one with your stereotypical happy ending. Instead, it's grounded in authenticity and life lessons and hard-earned insights.
As Jacob, Conor Donovan (The Departed) is edgy but not too edgy, vulnerable yet not over-the-top vulnerable. It's a nicely balanced, emotionally honest performance that avoids unnecessary histrionics. Among the supporting players, Aynsley Bubbico (Greek) is a particular stand-out that hits all the right notes that makes her journey with Jacob completely believable.
The crew, most of which are under the age of 25, nicely bring Perrone's vision to life. Kenneth Cabanilla's lensing is beautifully framed and gives a distinct aura to each character while subtly uniting them. Tasked with lensing a film that isn't really told in a traditional style, Cabanilla manages to nicely create a sense of visual storytelling. Kudos as well should go to Meaghan Cleary for her ability to create a look that makes sense both intellectually and emotionally.
Evol: The Theory of Love is, when it comes down to it, is a film I more respected for Perrone's artistic vision than actually enjoyed experiencing. My commitment to the film, however, grew as the film itself progressed and we had the opportunity to grow more and more into the lives of these characters. It's a film that intrigued me and made me interested in seeing Perrone's future projects, a couple of which are already in the works. For those interested in unique storytelling and visually arresting filmmaking, Evol: The Theory of Love explores a familiar, universal subject in a quietly creative and different way and challenges its audience to explore what it means to them.
Watch for the film at a film festival near you.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic