Love is Thicker Than Water is a modern day Romeo and Juliet story for the romcom crowd. Arthur (Johnny Flynn) is from a working class background whose history is seeped in factory jobs and family tragedy. Vida (Lydia Wilson) is from an upper-class Jewish family. Her father is a warm, intelligent man who reaches out to Arthur and his family while his wife remains skeptical of the pair’s compatibility. Really, it’s not Arthur and Vida she has the issue with but rather the “family they all will be marrying into.” Arthur’s parents are cognizant of the socioeconomic dissonance but his siblings are less concerned with coming off a certain way, as is evident when Arthur’s sister uses the toilet in front of Vida after just meeting. “You have sisters, right?” she adds.
Writer Ate de Jong does a good job imbuing Love is Thicker Than Water with these kinds of comedic punctuation. In addition to the naturalistic tones they add to the film, they also do wonders in fleshing out the side characters of the film. This is important because despite the film’s shorter runtime, there is a lot of plot that unfolds and it tends to get a little messy when undeveloped side plots are thrown into the mix of things Arthur and Vida must contend with in their relationship.
Co-directors Emily Harris and Ate de Jong are also attuned to the camera’s understanding of this couple’s whirlwind romance. The beginning of the film is a sea of closeup shots of tangled limbs in bed, and warm faces bathed in soft lighting. Over these shots is voiceover of Arthur and Vida saying what amounts to sweet nothings to each other, the language of love that is just budding. In millennial terms, it’s a “supercut,” only the best, most pristine moments are captured regardless of their fractured nature. It’s beautiful to look at, but it’s not the whole picture. The use of this technique is an excellent juxtaposition to what develops ahead for these two lovebirds once they are forced to confront the reality of their relationship within the contexts of their family dynamics.
There’s a lot to enjoy about Love is Thicker Than Water, despite some roughness that can be expected from newer filmmakers. The film also features some great music that is befitting to its genre as well as some interesting animated sequences that lend themselves to the cutesy (in a good way) days of heart scribbles in notebook margins and that fuzzy warm feeling of a encountering your crush in the hall.
Ate de Jong will be in attendance when Love is Thicker Than Water screens Sunday, November 19 at The Gershman Y. Tickets and screening details here.
Author: Jill Malcolm
Jill is happiest attending midnight screenings with other crazy film fans at her local theater. Her other passions include reading, traveling to faraway places, cat videos, pugs, and jalapeño peppers. She is co-founder of the blog Filmhash.