The Reel World: Love from many angles

Love is all around us in the month of February. Love is patient. Love is kind. But love can also be painful, messy and complicated. These documentaries explore love from many different angles. In First Comes Love a single woman decides to have a baby on her own. In Autism in Love individuals on the autism spectrum share the challenges and rewards of dating. My Love, Don’t Cross that River focuses on an elderly couple who are still very much in love after years of marriage. Tender and thought-provoking, these real stories are worth watching as we celebrate the month of love. 

First Comes Love

Documentary filmmaker Nina Davenport always wanted to have kids. Wistfully she watched as the years went by and friends and family met their mates and began their families. At 41 she decided the “then comes marriage” part of the childhood rhyme just wasn’t going to happen. She took her sister-in-law’s pithy advice “to drop the camera and find some sperm” and have a baby by herself. 

Happily for the viewer, Davenport did find some sperm, but she didn’t drop the camera. First Comes Love follows her journey from the decision to become a single mother, to her (lightly touched upon) experience with IVF, to the birth of her son Jasper in all its miraculous, bloody, sticky glory. As she experiences pregnancy, labor and the first year of motherhood, Davenport explores what it means to be a single parent from her own and others’ perspectives. 

 There is a lot about single motherhood that isn’t addressed in First Comes Love, but as a personal, candid story of one woman’s path to motherhood, this is compelling. 

Autism in Love

What does love mean for people who have problems navigating social cues, difficulty forming relationships, and challenges with communication? In Autism in Love filmmaker Matt Fuller explores love through the lens of four individuals with autism spectrum disorder. From sex to dating to marriage to lost love, viewers get an intimate glimpse into the obstacles to love and being loved when an individual is on the spectrum. 

We meet Lonnie from Los Angeles, a young man adrift after high school with no job, no car and struggling with his autism diagnosis. Then there’s Lindsey and David, two very different people both on the spectrum. Dating for 8 years, both are wondering what the next step in their relationship should be. Finally, there’s Stephen, a Jeopardy whiz with a flat affect and minimal eye contact who recently lost his wife of many years to cancer. 

Like Netflix’s Love on the Spectrum but without all the cringey speed dating, Autism in Love is a thoughtful, respectful examination of romantic relationships. 

My Love, Don’t Cross That River

Do you remember the Alan Jackson song “Livin’ on Love”? He can’t see any more / She can barely sweep the floor / Hand in hand they’ll walk through that door / Just livin’ on love… Now imagine this ancient couple is Korean, dress them in traditional clothing, give them the most basic of houses by the mountains and a river, and you have the affecting documentary My Love, Don’t Cross That River. 

Married for 75 years, Jo Byeong-man and Kang Kye-yeo are withered yet bright-eyed, anticipating death yet still playful and tender. As the seasons pass, they toss leaves at each other, build snowmen and have water fights.  Gently he strokes her face while she sleeps. Cheerfully she cooks his favorite foods. Yet there is sorrow too as they reflect on their dead children and watch heartbroken as their living children fight. 

Viewers, there will be tears, but don’t let that stop you from watching this poignant documentary about enduring love. 

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Constant reader, book selector, shameless promoter of good reads - these are just a few of the things I do as a Collection Development Professional. I love sharing the hidden gems in our nonfiction collection!