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Review: 'The End of Love' shows single parent's highs, lows

February 28, 2013|By Gary Goldstein
  • Mark Webber, front, and Issac Love "The End of Love."
Mark Webber, front, and Issac Love "The End of Love." (Variance Films )

Despite its epic title, writer-director-actor Mark Webber's sophomore filmmaking effort "The End of Love" (his first was 2008's "Explicit Ills") is an exceptionally intimate, human-scaled picture. It's also quite a special piece of work.

Webber, known largely for his many indie film appearances ("For a Good Time, Call…," "The Hottest State"), stars in this poignant, semi-autobiographical tale of a recently widowed, underemployed actor, also named Mark, devoted to raising his energetic 2-year-old, Isaac (Webber's real-life son, Isaac Love), while battling money troubles, profound exhaustion and deep sadness.

Told in a loose, surprisingly involving cinema verite style, the film is as successful depicting the smallest daily routines between parent and child (meals, playground, bedtime) as it is at portraying life's more overwhelming moments (a desperate audition, a towed car, home eviction).

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But it's a late-breaking nail-biter regarding the fate of Isaac's innocent goldfish (not for nothing named Daddy) that proves the film's most skillful — and significant — scene as it heartbreakingly sums up Mark's entire emotional journey.

Webber is enormously sympathetic here, as is Shannyn Sossamon as another weary single parent and Mark's potential love interest. As for adorable toddler Isaac, he's a come-as-you-are party of infectious spontaneity.

Such recognizable actors as Amanda Seyfried, Jason Ritter, Michael Cera and Aubrey Plaza play themselves in cameos that prove equal parts distracting and diverting.

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"The End of Love." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes. At Sundance Sunset Cinemas, West Hollywood.

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