Mike Doyle’s dramedy Almost Love is a commendable achievement for many reasons. It views contemporary relationships through the prism of a gay couple, and it doesn’t make their sexuality a focal point, nor does it sugarcoat their reality. It studies its 30-something protagonists in a mature and incisive fashion, favoring substance over style. Doyle rarely resorts to cheap sentiment, expertly blending humor with pathos. Were it not for a few missteps, coupled with an abrupt resolution that doesn’t do justice to the preceding depth, Doyle would have had a little gem on his hands. As it stands, I almost love Almost Love.
Adam (Scott Evans) and Marklin (Augustus Prew) are going through couples therapy. Adam is a talented painter, yet a famous artist (a cameo best left discovered) takes all the credit for his work. Akin to a ghostwriter, Adam stays behind the scenes, signing someone else’s name on his canvases. Marklin, on the other hand, has paved himself a successful career as a social influencer/ local celebrity. He’s willing to share his wealth with Adam, who may be too proud to accept it.
“Adam and Marklin are going through couples therapy.”
Doyle also follows the path of their friend Cammy (Michelle Buteau), who, after a series of dreadful relationships, ends up with Henry (Colin Donnell), who is homeless. She has to figure out how to set her prejudices aside and attempt to connect with the new man in her life. In the meantime, Cammy’s friend Haley (Zoe Chao), a private tutor, engages in a pseudo-affair with her not-so-bright student, hilariously named Scott James (Christopher Gray). Oh, and there’s also Adam’s best friend, Elizabeth (Kate Walsh), and Marklin’s terminally-ill ex.
That’s perhaps one thread too many in this yarn that Doyle spins. Because the central couple – Adam and Marklin – are so compelling, not to mention the fact that the majority of the slim running time is dedicated to them, Doyle can’t help but sideline the rest of the cast. To spice up their stories, he injects a dose of eccentric humor / shrillness into them (see: the prone-to-weeping, love-struck Scott James), which jars with the grounded emotional complexity of the rest of the film. Doyle also seems unsure about how to resolve all those quandaries he’s raised, tying everything up a little too neatly at the end.
That being said, the filmmaker has a great ear for snappy dialogue exchanges. When Haley exclaims, “You slept with the homeless!”, Cammy corrects her by saying, “Man. A homeless man.” Doyle is equally perceptive when it comes to the dramatic bits, touching upon subjects like artistic ownership and the impact that wealth and social status have on a relationship. Almost Love, a sweet and breezy film, aptly demonstrates that sometimes, you just have to break some things in order to move on in life.
"…I almost love Almost Love."