February 18, 2004
‘Kenneth was in love from the minute he took Nikki out of her box. Anatomically correct, complete with instructions and 100% lifelike silicone, she was exactly as he had ordered. With his newfound love, Kenneth’s once desolate and lonely life took a turn for the better and everyone noticed…including Lisa. But spending more time with Lisa meant spending less time with Nikki, and it wasn’t long before Kenneth realized that Nikki was a doll with some evil intentions.’
The 88 minutes of your life which you choose to waste on Love Object will revolve around a young, sexually recluse man named Kenneth (Desmond Harrington). After taking on a big assignment at work, his boss introduces a new work partner, Lisa (Melissa Sagemiller) to help with the workload. It becomes apparent that Lisa is attracted to Kenneth, who appears somewhat depraved of social skills. As a result he is unable to handle the situation and resolves to avoid all contact with her, steadily becoming more introspective.
The film really begins as Kenneth is shown a website by some colleagues which manufactures ultra-realistic sex dolls. They treat it as a joke, winding him up. Unbeknown to them Kenneth places an order, and when given the choice of customising his new gadget, opts to model it in Lisa’s image. Kenneth then steadily builds an emotional relationship with the doll, which goes by the name of Nikki. This has a strong psychological affect on Kenneth’s well being; something which everybody around him begins to notice, especially Lisa, who becomes even more interested in Kenneth. Their friendship soon becomes more-than, so to speak, which is the point that this film stops being interesting, and becomes just plain funny.
Sex mad Neurotic Nikki (the sex doll, remember!) becomes madly Jealous of Kenneth’s new lover, Lisa, and resolves to get her out of Nikki and Kenneth’s lives for good. Soon, via shameless trick photography, Kenneth becomes the victim of his own perversion. It starts with coming home and finding his clothes cut up, and goes as far as sexual assault and S&M, in all of which Kenneth appears to be the victim, and Nikki his tormentor. In a desperate attempt to regain control of his sanity, Kenneth decides that its time to get rid of Nikki for good.
The final 30 minutes of this film are unbearable. Just as Kenneth seems to be getting an even break, by getting rid of Nikki, Lisa finds the original advertisement for the sex doll lying on his desk. Noticing her resemblance to the doll, Lisa reacts as most women would, badly. Much explaining by Kenneth, and non-understanding from Lisa result in violence. This is where the film gets really violent, with the police being the instigators of much of it. Good old-fashioned movie cops, so painfully stupid. Kenneth gets away with it, everyone loves him. That’s basically it.
I didn’t think I’d ever encounter a less rewarding experience than Tarrantino’s bowel-bludgeoningly-bad Kill Bill volume II, and to be honest, I still haven’t, but Love Object is certainly a contender. The difference between the two is that Kill Bill left me in a similar state to Kenneth’s character: the feeling of betrayal, confusion, and the desire to kill. In stark comparison, by the end of Love Object, I bore more resemblance to the cardboard casing the film had arrived in, blank, I was indifferent. The film hadn’t gone anywhere unexpected, nor had it managed to shock or unease me, as it so obviously had set out to do.
To be fair, it’s clear that director/writer Robert Pariqi intended Love Object to be more of a character study than a story, and a lot of the film is quite thought provoking, it’s just not married up very well with the events of the film. The problem is that Love Object never really finishes what it starts; it isn’t a bad film, not at all. It’s just such a waste of some fantastic ideas. I think Kenneth’s character is, at times fascinating: his inability to cope with inter-personal relationships, his displacement of affection (for Lisa) onto Nikki. It is also quite a daring move to feature a lead character who’s not quite with it, whose personality is at times appealing and at other times despicable.
Despite all that I enjoyed about Love Object, Pariqi’s film never manages to tie it up, and as a result, it comes off looking cheap; an under-developed idea. Ultimately, I forgot I’d seen the film, within minutes. If I hadn’t written this review I would probably have never remembered how disappointing it was. All I can do know is appeal to all you movie lovers out there, if you want to waste an hour and a half of your life, don’t waste it on this film. Smoke a pack of cigarettes, drink a bottle of whatever, hell! Watch Kill Bill if you must, anything but Love Object. You have been warned.