Cupid gets a new set of darts and curly hair

It’s hard to imagine a film so cute you could hug it winning a live-action short Academy Award, but that’s exactly what Luke Matheny’s endearing take on the story of Cupid, “God of Love,” did by partnering nostalgic black and white cinematography with a playfully romantic but conniving hero.

Although Matheny is no stranger to winning awards, his previous film “Earano” won a few at various prestigious festivals, his Oscar winning short has been cleaning house in film festivals from New York to Hawaii. The film focuses on Raymond, a darts enthusiast/jazz singer afflicted with a seemingly incurable and unfortunately unrequited love for his band mate, Kelly. He prays for her love when a mysterious package of darts arrives for him at the bar where his band has a residency. The darts possess the power of making someone fall in love, after being stuck with one of course, with the next person they see. The film that follows is a quirky look at how love doesn’t make any sense but most importantly is selfless.

“I was also determined to critique the image of the lovestruck hero,” writes Matheny in a statement about the short on his personal website. He achieves this by presenting Raymond’s awakening from a self-interested lover to a dart flinging cupid. At first Raymond’s interest in love is depicted as shallow, with camera’s looming in the distance and Kelly’s character devoid of any personality; she is isn’t really there because Raymond doesn’t even know her. The black and white coloring of the film also works together with the jazzy soundtrack to highlight Raymond’s fictionalized romance for Kelly.

Raymond finds out abruptly however that love isn’t something that sticks like a dart if it doesn’t come from a place of honesty. Tricking someone can only work for so long before the emotion built up to that moment falls apart and the intentions come to light.

The film tells a well thought out story with humor and a sort of self-mocking goofy director who plays the main character.  “I should have gotten a haircut,” said Matheny as he accepted his golden statue, but his personality both behind and in front of the camera come across so well through those curly locks of hair.

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3 Responses to Cupid gets a new set of darts and curly hair

  1. robert cambria says:

    The inspiration of ‘the God of Love’ is found in the character of Shakespeare’s Puck [Robin Goodfellow]. Is our hero, Ray Goodfellow in this Oscar winning live action short as playful and mischievous as Puck? Hardly.
    In the ‘God of Love’ everyone goes through the film in what looks like a ‘catatonic state’. And the theme of love misdirected is obvious and shopworn. Shot in black & white, it has a retro feel, but falls short of being hip.
    Am cynical enough to say, the jury award ‘the god…’ the prize for being the only American film which made it to the short list of nominees.

  2. ying says:

    The black and white cinematography might have worked together with the jazz, but I don’t think those elements were enough to make the movie come together into something that deserved the Oscars. Rather, I think that those elements were slightly deceiving, as the whole entirety of the plot was just too cliched and too familiar.

  3. dospino says:

    a) There is nothing not cliché about love, love itself is a cliché word stripped of any real meaning, so if the characters in “God of Love” are to embody it they must themselves be in the “catatonic state” of the word. The film ends with Matheny saying that love doesn’t make any sense and throughout the film the fickle nature of love is explored wonderfully through the metaphor of the darts. Matheny is very aware of his representation of love as cliché and fickle.
    b) Whether or not the character stems from Shakespeare’s Puck is irrelevant. You’re comparing a master of language’s extremely celebrated play “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream” to a short film. Film is a completely different medium. You can analyze the story by itself and ask yourself if this story will stand the test of time like Shakespeare’s and the answer is undoubtedly, NO!
    But when you group the mis-en-scene, with the narrative, with the black and white cinematography, with the use of music, with the use of lighting, with the shot choices, with the understated Bressonian (referring to director Robert Bresson) acting, with so many other elements the work together to create something as genuine as this piece and ask yourself did this movie deserve an Oscar, it’s an unmistakable yes. For once the Academy picked the best filmmaker and not just the best story.
    d) Finally, a film is not just a story; it’s how the story is presented. You measure a film by the summation of its parts. Little details like the bubbles in the apartment are often times ignored but they mean the world. That a bubble on screen can sum up the fleeting nature of love is powerful and a testament to Matheny’s incredible talents as a director and filmmaker.
    e) Those who can’t create criticize. Learn to appreciate film.

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