Love Is All You Need?
Distributed By: Wingspan Pictures
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Recently, a co-worker and I had a lengthy discussion regarding a topic that has received some heavy discussion/debate in the news - gay marriage and equality in the eyes of the law. As we discussed the topic, it became apparent that we were of the same mind. Thus, my co-worker directed me to a short he had watched on YouTube that might peak my interest entitled Love Is All You Need?.
In this short written and directed by Kim Rocco Shields, Lexi DiBenedetto is Ashley, a young teen from a happy family who has the whole world ahead of her. Unfortunately, although Ashley may seem to have it all - a loving family, a good stable home environment, intelligence, good looks - Ashley realizes at a young age that she is different. You see, Ashley likes boys. "Likes boys?" you say, "Why should that be a problem?" Well, Ashley lives in a world where homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality is a rare relationship that is reserved for the breeders of society.
Ashley has two loving mothers who want her to be successful in sports, preferably in football. So when she tells them that she has tried out for and obtained a role in the school play, Romeo and Julio, there is an air of disappointment at the dinner table. Making matters more uncomfortable is that Ashley didn't make the football team. Add to that her explanation that Shakespeare had actually written the play for his forbidden female love. Ashley's parents are so heterophobic that she and her brother are told to walk the long way to school and back, thus avoiding the new neighbors, a heterosexual couple. Ashley's parents discuss the "heteros" with plain disgust in their voices.
As Ashley's preferences become more apparent to her peers, she becomes anxious, but when her boyfriend turns on her in an effort to achieve among his family and friends, Ashley becomes the object of verbal, and eventually physical, abuse. The culmination of this tale, approximately nineteen minutes in length, is tragic and profoundly disturbing.
Kim Rocco Shields knew that the movie might be disturbing for some, but she created this film in an effort to help people understand what it is like for a person who is bullied just because they are different: "'Love is All You need?' is my attempt – to show the world - what it would be like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. What would it be like to be bullied, beat up, and shunned by your peers? What would it be like to think that your life has no reason to live? What if it was abnormal for a girl and a boy to fall in love? My hope is that this film can screen all over the world – and close minded people will see a piece of themselves in Ashley Curtis - and identify – and realize how insane it is to be tormented because of who you are…or who you might be."
As I watched Love Is All You Need?, I found it to be very well done. The acting was quite believable, with the exception of some woodenly relayed lines by Ashley's teacher (co-writer David Tillman), and the cinematography was very professional. But the message of this film is what is really important here. Love Is All You Need? is quite the thought-provoking piece. As a person who believes that no one should be treated different because of their skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc, I believe that this movie short really gets the point across well. That it depicts a world in which heterosexual behavior is abnormal may cause some extreme thinking individuals to turn away from its message, but the reality is that this message - even if it only reaches a handful of the intended audience - is important to get across, especially with the growing number of suicides attributed to bullying these days. I'm in complete agreement with David Tillman on this one when he says that the short "could potentially help lots of young people - gay or straight - to either realize they are not alone and that their struggle is being heard or, even more importantly, that the young people who are actually doing the bullying will wake up to the harm and long term effects they are inflicting on their victims. If even one person is saved from self harm or from inflicting pain on another, then I believe we will have succeed in our mission."
At this time, Rocco and Tillman are seeking to create a full length feature from their original short film concept. I wish them luck and hope for them to succeed. Love Is All You Need? is a short film well worth watching if only to spread the message regarding bullying and the pain it can cause.