Joe Acierno’s I Love Who You Are takes a minimalist approach to explore a man’s heartbreak in this 5-minute drama. With no stylistic flourishes to further dramatise its narrative, the film asks its viewers to focus their entire attention on its protagonist as he tries to understand and verbalise a complex structure of grief.
The setup is simple. Two friends at a cafe, commiserating. A series of shot-reverse-shots with a master shot thrown in every now and then is the essential sum of the cinematography. It then falls to editing and the actors Jose Alberto Alvarez (Lucas) and Jenna Reilly (Megan) to extract and distil a resonant glimpse into heartbreak and betrayal. The plot, too, is kept simple and spared of details. All the audience is really allowed to know is that Lucas’ old friend and an ex-lover have come together.
What looks like a date at first—fidgeting hands, coffee, two people who look at each other furtively and a little awkwardly—instead reveals itself to be the aftermath of a deep rift. A network has been dismantled. Heart(s) have been broken. Lucas experiences grief as rage for a moment. Prompted by Megan, he impulsively, almost convulsively, describes the cruelty he now wants to inflict on his ex. The disturbing moment passes, and sorrow takes over once again. Alvarez and Reilly pull in decent performances, maintaining a sense of familiarity borne of old friendships and shared histories.
Lucas mulls over words from his now ex, which also form the film’s title: I love who you are. This is what the film puzzles over: what one can do with the remnants of a dream after it disintegrates. For the moment, vague optimism is all its characters can afford.
I Love Who You Are: Heartbreak and Questions that Evade Us