With his bushy hair and gangly body, the first thing he utters is “I should’ve got a haircut.” He thanks his mother for craft services, thanks the “great state of Delaware”, and finally thanks his loved one, composer Sacha Gordon whom describes as a “dream come true.” Everyone melts into a heartwarming, “ahh…” It was probably the best and most memorable speech of the night. This was director, writer, and actor Luke Matheny at the 83rd(2011) Academy Awards when his film, God of Love, won for Best Live Action Short Film. From his speech, everyone could clearly tell he was a charming and witty fellow. He certainly won my affection, as I immediately googled his film, watched the trailer, and purchased his 19 minute film right away on iTunes.
Matheny’s God of Love is charming, comical, and original. Raymond Goodfellow, played by Matheny himself, is a jazz singer and dart thrower who performs with his band at a lounge. He has been praying to God for a year to have the love of his life, Kelly (Marian Brock), the band’s drummer, to fall in love with him. And not to mention, Kelly is in love with Raymond’s best friend and bassist, Fozzie (Christopher Hirsh), who says he is not interested in Kelly. Destiny answers and Raymond mysteriously receives a package of “love darts”. According to the instructions, whoever is hit by the dart falls madly in love with the thrower for 6 hours. After 6 hours, if the love is meant to be, then the fire remains. If it’s not meant to be, then it fades right away. He plans the most romantic 6 hours with the help of Fozzie, who seems to know a lot about Kelly.
As the story unfolds, we witness a man desperately trying to win love. He vies for Cupid’s power to be granted upon him when in fact, he is really the one that possesses this power. He is the God of Love. And we see Ray on his motor scooter in a countryside with a bow and arrow hanging on his back. It’s an overgrown and frizzy Cupid that we see riding away and it is pure bliss and perfection. Love is this small, innocent, and foolish thing, yet we take extreme measures for it and it takes maturity to understand and accept it. Thus, the concept of Cupid being a baby becomes invalid after watching this short film.
“You can’t control who you love or who loves you…love doesn’t make sense,” says Ray in the opening and ending of the film. The protagonist learns this and matures, letting go and allowing destiny to be well…destiny.
Matheny’s dialogue is quick, witty, and humorous. It’s very Woody Allen and I feel that Matheny might just be the next Allen in the future generation. Cinematographer Bobby Webster did an amazing job with the use of black and white. It gives a jazzy, blissful, and romantic mood that makes us feel we are watching a film from the French New Wave. Composer or Matheny’s “dream come true”, Gordon, composed a mesmerizing jazzy soundtrack for the film. I particularly like the way Matheny cuts back and forth between characters with the use of medium-close up shots of his characters. It makes his film appear different, comical, and animated. Old fashion yet clever.
Matheny, a lover of jazz, aesthetically weaved all his tastes, interests, and personalities together in this film that really made his film, his. It is a pure embodiment of Matheny.
Matheny, 35, was a grad student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and God of Love was his thesis project. He studied journalism during his undergrad and worked as a copy editor and reporter and also worked for Netflix and MTV. He said that as a copy editor, you have to read an article and come up with a short headline for it in a limited amount of space. And he related this with short films. You have to tell a story within a limited amount of time.
His journalism path ended when him and a couple of friends came up with a plan to shoot a movie about 3 losers who quit their jobs, move to Paris, and become street musicians. And that’s exactly what they did. They all quit their jobs, moved to Paris, and began shooting. The film premiered at a film festival and Matheny realized that he to pursue film. He took a huge risk that paid off. An amazing individual with an amazing story.
I’m going to try and get my hands on Earanous, another film by Matheny he made before God of Love. In my screenwriting class, we had the opportunity to write short films and the experience made me truly appreciate them. It’s amazing how a 15 minute film can say so much than a 2 hour film.