A bespectacled man in a polo and a dark-haired woman in a white blouse stare at each other in front of an industrial-style building.

Slamdance Film Review: Love and Work

Film Reviews

Slamdance Film Review: Love and Work
Director: Pete Ohs

Spartan Media Acquisition
Premiere: 1.20

What would the world be like if nobody had to work and employment was outlawed entirely? In the surreal, sci-fi comedy Love and Work, we are transported to an unidentified rural town where all there is to do is well, nothing. 

Not everyone is content to stand around idle, however. Secretly, the people of the desolate town look for work in whatever way, shape or form they can. Through a secret network of recruiters (a.k.a “toothpicks”), the lead duo Diane (Stephanie Hunt, Californication) and Fox (Will Madden, 15 Cameras) search for employment after their last job as shoemakers is shut down. 

The work in Love and Work is not portrayed as particularly productive. During Diane and Fox’s time in the shoe factory, they only manage to produce a single shoe between the two of them. Jobs are more busy-work than anything else as the characters struggle to fill their time. It’s like watching children play pretend with no real concept of what employment actually entails. We see them rejoice with glee when they are both hired for a job with long hours and hard work, something you would be hard-pressed to see in the real world.

The lack of purpose felt by the characters amplifies as they wander aimlessly through broken-down alleyways surrounded by scattered bricks and weeds. Even the character’s speech feels unnatural and broken, almost a cross between a Yorgos Lathimos screenplay and kids trying to sound like adults. The tone of the dialogue works perfectly in tandem with the setting to create the feeling of peeking in on a surreal, alternate universe. Deadpan delivery from Hunt and Madden leads to many laugh-out-loud moments throughout Love and Work’s runtime.

The love story between the two leads is cute and endearing, as they treat their relationship in a business-like fashion, repeating how well they “work together.” Their relationship echoes the idealized version of work they each have, although work eventually prioritizes itself over the bond they build, even if only momentarily. 

Are we conditioned to feel a desire to work by the society we live in, or would the drive still be there if work was a completely foreign concept? Love and Work’s uniquely surreal spin on the idea makes it a must-watch comedy. –Elle Cowley

Read more of SLUG‘s comprehensive coverage of the 2024 Slamdance Film Festival.