The Many Loves of Eleanor Coppola
For as long as people have been telling stories, love and its many forms has been a prime subject for art. Writer-director Eleanor Coppola explores aspects of love, the connections that we make and the bonds we share in her new anthology film, Love is Love is Love, which is made of three segments.
“I originally just made a segment that I wanted to do, and I didn’t know if it would be a short,” Coppola says. “And then I had another idea and then another idea. By the time I had these three pieces, it seemed like even though they weren’t linked in the storyline, that there was a common thread, which is forms of love and commitment and loyalty in long relationships.”
Coppola, who is married to Godfather icon Francis Ford Copola and is the mother of director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, On The Rocks) as well as writer and frequent Wes Anderson collaborator Roman Coppola, has been a big name in the world of film of the cinematic arts for decades now. She debuted as a filmmaker in 1991 with the acclaimed documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, which chronicles her husband’s efforts in making the classic Apocalypse Now. Her first narrative feature Paris Can Wait released in 2016. For her second feature film, Coppola has woven an elegant tapestry that explores the complexities of interpersonal relationships. The first segment, Two For Dinner, follows a couple, Jack and Joanne (Chris Messina and Joanne Whalley, respectively), having a virtual date night while separated by the fact that Jack, a successful producer, is away on a long location shoot.
“I actually was interviewing an actor for one of the segments”, Coppola says, “He was in Canada and we were Skyping. And he was telling me about someone on his crew up there who was having these dates with his wife over Skype … and I built a story around that.” The idea has only become more relevant since then, Coppola notes, as the pandemic has made distant, intimate communication a part of daily life for many of us. Segment two, Sailing Lessons, follows husband and wife John (Marshall Bell) and Diana (Kathy Baker) as they try to bring a romantic spark to their marriage during a day of boating. The third, Late Lunch, depicts a young woman named Caroline (Zoe Kazan) bonding with the closest friends of her recently deceased mother over a memorial luncheon. Coppola explains that the film, which she lovingly refers to as her ‘trilogy,’ is meant to appeal to audiences looking for grown up and sophisticated moviegoing experiences. “I really do think that there’s an underserved audience there,” Coppola says.
It’s been a busy time for the Coppolas, all of whom have been working on projects, but according to the matriarch of the family, they are all supportive of each other’s work while avoiding getting in the way. “I think our children want to feel independent and not like they are just following orders from the other filmmakers in the family,” Coppola says. “Francis is very straightforward with me about what he does and doesn’t think works, and for me I have to make a choice: maybe this doesn’t work for him, but it’s what I want to say. So I think we have to […] take that attitude, we accept the sort of information coming in, the critique, and then we kind of go our own way within that.” But does the celebrated Oscar Winner follow his wife’s expert advice? “Sometimes I see something that I suggest, and he rejects [it] at the moment, and then I see it woven in later,” Coppola says with a smile.
The family is also preparing for their first experience in being the subjects of dramatic film rather than the makers of it, as Academy Award winner Barry Levinson (Rain Man) is readying production on Francis and the Godfather, a miniseries which stars Oscar Isaac (Dune) as Francis and Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) as Eleanor. Levinson called personally to ask how they felt about him tackling the project, and Francis didn’t even need to see the script before signing off on it. But for Eleanor Coppola, it’s strange to think that Moss will be playing her on screen.
“I don’t think that I really played a part in that period,” Coppola explains. “I was pregnant. My daughter, Sofia, was born during the shooting, and she ended up in the film in the christening scene at the end … I think they are going to have to invent a part for me. Maybe that part will be used as some sort of foil to explain what’s going on.”
While it will still be a while before we can see Moss’s portrayal, those wishing to enjoy Eleanor Coppola’s working behind the camera can check out Love is Love is Love right now, either on the big screen or on video on demand.
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