Candid Love

Year: 2015
Director: Kurtz Frausun
Starring: Jon Hargis, Daniel Hendricks
Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

My favourite emails to open are those from directors of obscure independent projects approaching us to review their film. I really do love this kinda thing – discovering new projects, which I would otherwise be oblivious to. Documentaries always fascinate me too, so ‘Candid Love’ was a win in all respects. The film’s subject matter – homosexual relationships and grief – are admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea, but you have to be open minded. It’s real life, and whilst it may not happen to all of us, for a lot of people these are prevalent issues. And that deserves some respect.

This documentary follows, for the most part, Jon Hargis, a gay man from Dallas, as he discusses his relationship with partner Daniel Hendricks. The couple have a turbulent relationship at the best of times – their joyous honeymoon period is a distant memory – and the death of Daniel’s father pushes them further and further apart. This distance is not just a psychological sensation, but a geographical issue too, as Daniel insists on moving back home to Wisconsin to care for his widowed mother. Upon his return to Dallas, Daniel tells his side of the story and he and Jon must make big decisions on their future.

On the surface, it is easy to dislike Jon and regard him as selfish and harsh. But dig deep and you’ll realise that he is suffering too. When someone loses a loved one, we expect them to grieve and we make allowances for this. But rarely do we take a moment to think of the partners of these people, the ones who have the unenviable task of supporting a grieving partner. Daniel on the other hand, comes across as a very grounded and rational person, but one who is broken by the loss of his father. These are two very fragile people, who find themselves at a crossroads in an unstable relationship, trying desperately to find a way to repair their wounds.

I really enjoyed the way the film was shot and put together, with an interesting filter on the frame during interview scenes. Not to mention, beautiful shots of a landscape laden with snow. However, there were some issues with editing and sound quality at times, but on a small budget, that is to be expected. The aforementioned interview scenes were both harrowing and insightful in equal measure; truly revealing moments from the heart of the subjects. I think the film worked best when Jon and Daniel were consciously addressing the camera and director Kurtz Frausun. When the camera was left to roll and capture the more ‘natural’ moments, I feel Jon in particular struggled to ignore its presence. A real highlight for me though, was the unplanned appearance of the director in front of the camera, who gives a monologue explaining his actions and process during filming. Frausun very honestly discusses the double edge sword which comes with documentary making – that he must remain focussed in the face of the couple’s unhappiness and capture these most sensitive of moments.

The story is a tragic one, touching on matters of death, love, sexuality and abuse. I say story, but as I said before, this is real life. This is a difficult and uncomfortable truth to be confronted with. These are also, sadly, topics which are probably not addressed often enough. So give this documentary your time, because you may not be given another opportunity.