- Directed by Arthur Hiller
- December 16, 1970
Two people from different backgrounds fall in love despite their differences.
There is no false advertising in the title of Love Story. This film is truly a love story. Specifically it is the love story of two individuals from very beginning to the very end. And I mean the very bitter end.
Love Story gave Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw permanent places in American pop culture. Justifiably so to an extent. There’s real chemistry between them on the screen. MacGraw is very charming as the playfully hard to get Jenny Cavilleri whom Ryan O’Neal’s character of Oliver Barrett IV is intrigued by and drawn towards. Part of Jenny’s charm is that she playfully taunts Oliver and this intrigues him. This is a dynamic between the two characters that runs throughout the film.
The subplot of Oliver and his father (Ray Milland) amounts to a just because. Oliver’s father is emotionally distant. Nothing ever really comes of it though. I’m not even sure if at the end of the final shot with the father that there is emotional understanding or dad is confused. Oliver seems excessively hostile with his dad to the point I was waiting for a deeper explanation that never came.
This dynamic is in contrast to the loving relationship that Jenny has with her father (John Marley). It is very casual to the point that she refers to him by his first name of ‘Phil.’ It is loving but they come off more as pals than a family. Love Story predates my birth by a few years, and I am curious if this was a relatively common thing at the time.
There is something I need to bring up. It is something that I have known about since before I watched this and has always bothered me. One thing Love Story is known on for is the line “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” I find that utterly ridiculous. Love often means saying you’re sorry-a lot! That just really bothers me. Moving on…
Based on the scenes that we see, production clearly occurred in the wintertime. There is not a single warm weather shot in this whole film and the narrative takes place over a significant period of time. Would it have killed them to do a few pickup shots in the summer? Or perhaps slap a t-shirt or two on our central couple and photograph them outside pretending (i.e. acting) like it is summer? Use those skills!
The narrative moves rather quickly and honestly this would have worked better as either a longer film or a miniseries. It covers so much so quickly. We go from the first meeting to courtship to marriage to death in the span of about two hours.
The disease at the end seems to come out of left field. Most films would offer an indication of something coming but suddenly Jenny is dying and she seems to know it. The last few lines before everything starts centering around the hospital bed made me think that. Does she know it the whole time? Or did she get a hint of it? I don’t know.
The directing is good and the story, while fast paced, is entertaining. It I’m not sure if it necessarily deserves its classic status but it’s not bad. Love Story manages to hold you from start to finish with its story and performances.
Despite my issues, what sells this or any other romantic story is the chemistry between the leads. O’Neal and MacGraw work as a couple. You can believe they would be dating. They play well off of each other with their interactions feeling natural.
Love Story despite its quick pace is an entertaining film. It’s good enough for one viewing-maybe two-but I’m not sure if it will be something you will revisit it regularly. Still though you should check it out!
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