SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2024 REVIEW! Set in the “past of a different future,” the world of Love and Work, co-written by stars Stephanie Hunt and Will Madden as well as director Pete Ohs, is equal parts utopia and dystopia. It’s a world without work or manufacturing; AI creates an abundance of products for everyone. In the surplus of commercial goods, jobs of any kind are illegal, and those who seek out work face strict punishment. Often in the form of brainwashing and being forced to find a hobby. Yet, in a world surrounded by totalitarian leisure, a few resist, creating secret factories to find fulfillment in their workless lives.
Love and Work centers around Diane (Hunt) in her plights and secret searches for work in a world with none. She begins as a shoemaker working alongside fellow working degenerates Evelyn (Lydia Ohs), Hank (Frank Mosley), and Bob Fox (Madden). Making shoes seemed like the perfect new job for Stephanie, that is, until police raided the small establishment, carting off each of the employees. In the search for new jobs, a romance blossoms between Diane and Bob as they navigate the hidden network of employers and job seekers looking for their next 9 to 5. What follows is an Orwellian journey into makeshift factories, government facilities, and a search for the lost concept of “the weekend.”
“…jobs of any kind are illegal…”
Quirky “Orwellian” may be the best description for Love and Work. The film and its characters offer insight into the world of work and how society could exist without it. Performances are strong throughout the film, each lending a perfect unphased delivery to each eccentric or absurd scenario in the workfree paradise/hellscape. Ohs allows the minimalist sets and small cast to expand Love and Work into a street-level view of life ruled by AI. Ohs does not dive into the further implications of a workfree society or get bogged down in over-exposition on the rules; instead, he and the cast create an offbeat social commentary that will entertain or at least intrigue fans of Orwell and Vonnegut.
Minimalism is key in the world of Love and Work and the filmmaking itself. The film uses a few sets and a small cast to create a fictional history with a large shadow. More character depth and clarity on the film’s social subtext could elevate the movie but do nothing to dissuade its unique charm. Love and Work is a creative film from premise to execution. The cast, crew, writers, and director make the most of its low budget, allowing creative innovation to triumph over cash solutions seen in high-budget films. The film is strange, inspiring, and a fun reminder of what makes the Slamdance special.
"…a world surrounded by totalitarian leisure"