In Bitch Lover, LaToya (Sofia Salgado), a world-class gamer, finds herself crushing on her college roommate’s father, Conrad (Stan J. Adams). Conrad is a game designer, and once he finds out who his daughter, Lexie (Shayna Darice), is bringing home for Spring Break, he quickly enlists LaToya’s expert help to review and comment on his new game, which is also called Bitch Lover. As their new game nears completion, Conrad and his team intend to break away from their current game company and strike out on their own.
When LaToya offers to play the game character’s motion caption avatar, some of the costumes are quite revealing, and she makes it clear to Conrad that if he likes what he sees, she would love to have sex with him. Some fairly graphic intimate scenes follow. They keep this relationship secret from Lexie, but when Conrad’s estranged wife comes home, she finds a laptop with the sample videos of LaToya in skimpy costumes and exposes the affair. Hilarity does not ensue.
Vaughn Christion produced, wrote, and directed Bitch Lover, and he’s achieved excellent production value for a budget movie while telling a compelling story with relatable characters.
The film has clear positives and negatives, and there are some problematic elements. The world of gaming has been plagued by misogyny for a long time. Even though LaToya is presented as a champion competitor at gaming, she’s quickly objectified in sexy outfits. She’s also terrorized by a man who feels slighted by her. The other characters don’t defend her against him, which is an odd note. It’s also somewhat unrealistic that her older love interest, Conrad, is 18 years older than LaToya, but she’s drawn to him immediately. Finally, the title of the film is never paid off. The viewer never learns why the game or the movie is called Bitch Lover. As far as games go, we see a lot of people playing, but only one shot of the video game. This makes sense, given the film’s indie nature, but it is jarring to watch gamers excited hammering away at a game we never see.
“…a world class gamer, finds herself crushing on her college roommate’s father…”
There’s nothing horrifically offensive about any single plot or character point. Still, taken together, they paint a story more centered on male fantasies about a hot young gamer girl than of a realistic look at what it’s like to be a female gamer in the male-dominated arena. Of course, these are minor points, as the film is clearly meant to be a romantic drama and not particularly intended to raise social awareness.
In the plus column, LaToya is played by Sofia Salgado as a bright, ambitious young woman who does not hesitate to fulfill her own desires and chase her dreams. The film also gets high marks for representation: the cast is Black, but the film isn’t centered on issues of race. This should not be remarkable, but it still is. Every film like this one moves the needle toward a time when representation and diversity are the norms.
Salgado and Adams put the shine on the production with their solidly believable performances. Conrad and LaToya clearly have real feelings for each other and won’t be deterred from pursuing their romance or business goals.
While the cinematography and music are impressive for a small-budget indie film. Bitch Lover plays more like a daytime soap episode than a film, but it’s the right vibe for the story and frames the action perfectly.
"…Conrad and LaToya clearly have real feelings for each other, and won’t be deterred from pursuing their romance, or their business goals. "