By Sarah Hillman
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live a different life? What it would be like to lose the one you love? Director and actor Mark Webber explores both of these questions in his second directorial effort, The End of Love. I’ve gotta shamefully admit something: I’ve been a huge fan of Mark Webber ever since he appeared as “Designated Dave” in the ’99 chick flick Drive Me Crazy (a seriously guilty pleasure of mine). In addition to the Webber-appeal, the film features cameos from actors Jason Ritter, Shannyn Sossamon, and Michael Cera. Let’s just say these names piqued my interest.
The End of Love combines parts of Webber’s real life with fiction, with the director playing a character very similar to himself – so similar, in fact, the character is also named Mark. The film’s improvisational style provides for a raw honesty. Mark (movie Mark, not real Mark) is an under-employed actor who is forced to confront his shortcomings and life’s challenges following the death of his child’s mother. Mark is the film’s flawed hero, a victim of his own making, but his devotion to his son’s well-being shines through (in spite of his own deeply rooted issues). Webber poignantly captures the reality of facing grief – and the denial that often comes with it – as well as the balance that parents must strike between their craving for freedom and their inherited responsibility.
Like Mark playing “Mark,” Webber’s son in the film is played by his real son, Isaac Love, who at the time of filming was unaware of the fact that they were making a movie. This gives us a real intimacy into Webber’s life that heightens the emotional energy of the film’s drama. The End of Love acts as a testament to Webber’s love of his son, but also a genuine consideration of what the loss of the mother of his child would be like – who in actuality is NOT deceased. I found that the more I learned about Webber’s personal life and troubled childhood (oh yeah, Wikipedia) the richer the experience of the film became. The End of Love is an emotional, humorous, and graceful journey – well worth the $12 a ticket will cost (oy…) when it comes to theaters.