Al Bailey sought out to make a documentary about his friend, an airline pilot and widower, trying to find love through a dating app. Surely, there would be embarrassing moments, blush-filled interviews, and, if the cinema gods were kind, an eleventh-hour soul mate with closing credits saying, “They currently live happily on a ranch in Colorado and Sally is pregnant with triplets.” DTF goes on in this direction for about fifteen minutes. Then it becomes apparent that Al’s friend, Christian, is a sex-crazed maniac and about as unlikeable as a human being can be.
Christian is a fake name given to protect his identity—great call, by the way. Given the nature of Christian’s profession, the documentary travels the world with him from one exotic location to another. Each date goes down in basically the same fashion. Christian finds a girl by flipping through pictures on Tinder, Al tags along on the date, then is brushed off as Christian and the date disappears. At first, it’s fairly innocent, but Christian’s behavior becomes more and more self-destructive and—to an extreme degree—outwardly destructive.
As the documentary shifts its focus from Christian’s quest for true love to Al’s quest for Christian’s sanity, it starts to hit its stride. Al’s not just the director, but essentially the movie’s face, considering Christian’s face is either blurred or purposefully avoided with the camera. It creates an odd effect where the supporting character—the witness to the main character’s downfall—is the one in the spotlight and the only one with visible emotions. While this is unorthodox and could have been awkward, it ends up giving the movie a unique perspective.
“…it becomes apparent that Al’s friend, Christian, is a sex-crazed maniac and about as unlikable as a human being can be.”
None of that would matter, however, if Christian’s downward spiral wasn’t so intense. An STD scare happens early in the movie, and it’s appropriately shocking, but by the end, Christian has wrought so much damage that you barely remember it. It really does seem like the man’s libido burrowed into his brain like a parasitic worm and assumed full control. While having unprotected sex with hookers and trading food to a starving woman for sex are among Christian’s darker moments, his worst is an episode that begins with him spiking Al’s drink with MDMA. Try to imagine all the Hangover movies rolled up into one guy, only much darker and more depressing.
Between the insanity, Al attempts to interview Christian, but rarely gets anything out of him. To be fair, Al hardly asks any good questions. There are only two scenes in the movie where Al gets anything notable out of Christian. The first is in describing the airline pilot’s lifestyle, fully admitting to going on all-night benders the night before flying commercial planes. The second is when he finally admits that at least some of his behavior is due not to the sex itself, but to the adrenaline rush of meeting strangers. This makes sense, considering his total lack of interest in porn, which is proposed as an alternative.
The intentions of DTF are a little bit of everywhere. It’s sort of about the hollow experience of dating apps, sort of about the lonely life of airline pilots, and sort of about addiction. However, I think its most flattering angle is that it’s about someone slowly realizing his friend is sick—in every meaning of that word—and potentially unsavable.
"…Christian’s behavior becomes more and more self-destructive and—to an extreme degree—outwardly destructive."